Machine Agency
Human Centered Design and Engineering, University of Washington
Our work harnesses the precision of machines for the creativity of individuals.
We are recruiting PhD students and postdocs! Read more about getting involved with Machine Agency.
three images overlaid with images of computational notebooks; fltr CAD, a milling machine, and a milled wooden propellor
Tandem: Reproducible Digital Fabrication Workflows as Multimodal Programs
Tandem is a software library that lets a fabricator implement an end-to-end fabrication workflow as a computational notebook program that others can run to physically reproduce the workflow.
A MIDI controller connected to a 3D printer for interactive control.
Playing the Print
We interactively tune machine settings using MIDI controllers and consider strategies to document the resulting outcomes.
Le Corbusier's monastery as an example of technical mentality.
Technical Mentality
We present four principles for HCI research and practice based on Simondon's concept of technical mentality.
A system for automated imaging and manipulation of duckweed.
The Duckbot
We built custom tools and software to automate imaging and manipulation of duckweed for plant biology experiments.
A dataflow programming environment with a colorful cellular automata.
Dynamic Toolchains
We built an event-driven dataflow environment to scaffold development of new digital fabrication workflows.
failed 3d print
3D Printers Don’t Fix Themselves
We study how practitioners maintain their FFF 3D printers in the home and find that maintenance is core to our participants' printing practice.
network diagrams
Forking a Sketch
We pair network analysis with qualitative techniques to capture high-level patterns and meaningful details about how creative coders remix sketches.
adding fillings to siwawa
Doufu, Rice Wine, and 面饼
We investigate how to support the connections between precision and cultural knowledge in cooking.
molds based on mathematical functions milled with imprimer
We show how to use computational notebooks to unlock new ways of working with CNC mills.
a tabletop laboratory automation machine
Pathways to Open-Source Hardware for Laboratory Automation
Bringing together a community of scientists to collaborate on ways of sharing, vetting, and maintaining open source hardware for science and engineering research.
diagram showing live programming resulting from editing the code geometry dot translate 50 50, an example verso module, and an example toolpath visualization on screen and projected in-situ.
Exploratory digital fabrication often involves low-level machine programming, to which Verso adds within-code GUIs and expressive toolpath visualization.
example use of automation in community biolabs to create images using bacteria.
Studying Community Biolabs
From a qualitative study of community biolabs, we discuss how members are creating new approaches to laboratory biology with implications for systems that support non-traditional settings for scientific practice.
collage of unconventional 3D prints created with our system.
A system for controlling digital fabrication machines from the creative coding environment p5.js, informed by insights into 3D printing practice.
Direct control of a machine (right) from Rhino/Grasshopper (left)
Interactive Digital Fabrication Machine Control Directly Within a CAD Environment
Enabling control of digital fabrication machines from a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) environment, including interactive control of toolpath geometry as well as machine parameters such as speed, acceleration, or jerk.
taxon transforms scattered resources for machine use to a unified language
A language that encodes machines, workflows, and rules of thumb as programs. Taxon applies the safety and extensibility of programming to hands-on making.
Collage of plotted artwork shared with the PlotterTwitter hashtag.
Studying #PlotterTwitter
We conducted a qualitative study of #PlotterTwitter and found that makers champion creative exploration of materials over a predictable series of steps.
collage of student projects from online digital fabrication courses
Teaching Digital Fabrication Online
Through interviews, we found that learning with hobbyist equipment and online social networks could emulate using industrial equipment in shared workshops.
two lamifold mechanisms
Lamifold is a workflow for making functional mechanical objects using a laser cutter.
CAD representation of Jubilee machine
Jubilee is an open-source hardware machine with automatic tool-changing and interchangeable bed plates.
Mockup of interface with language and GUI elements
Initial investigations into representing parts of fabrication workflows as programs.
Schematic Representation of Fabricatable Machine Modules
Fabricatable Machines
A Toolkit for Building Digital Fabrication Machines.
Various cardboard machine configurations
Cardboard Machine Kit
A framework for the rapid prototyping of rapid prototyping machines. Modular hardware, modular electronics, and modular software.
Popfab briefcase on a grassy field
A portable, multi-purpose digital fabrication tool that folds into a briefcase.
Diagram of makerspace setup
Material Flow in Makerspaces
An investigation into the practices that makerspaces around the world use to keep track of their materials.
Field Agents