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FreeD: Human-Computer Collaboration in 3D Craft

Updated: Mar 12

With Roy Shilkrot and Joe Paradiso, 2012

This research explores the intersection of craft and digital fabrication through a human-computer collaboration system for sculpting. Following traditional carving techniques we developed the FreeD: a handheld digital milling device, which is tracked and controlled with reference to a virtual 3D model. The FreeD allows unskilled makers to produce complex carving tasks, as well as personalizing and modifying the digital 3D models while physically carving. The control software offers guidance according to static virtual models or dynamic ones, which may be altered directly or parametrically. In addition, the FreeD is also able to semi-autonomously move and carve. This creates synergetic cooperation between human and machine that ensures accuracy in recreation of the model while preserving the expressiveness of manual carving.

Research papers

Zoran, A., Shilkrot, R., Nanyakkara, S., & Paradiso, J. (2014). The Hybrid Artisans: A Case Study in Smart Tools. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 21(3), Article 15.

Zoran, A., Shilkrot, R., & Paradiso, J. A. (2013). Human-computer interaction for hybrid carving. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST '13). ACM, St. Andrews.

Zoran, A., & Paradiso, J. A. (2013). FreeD – A freehand digital sculpting tool. In Proceedings of the 31st International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '13). ACM, Paris, France.

Top: carving an alien model from balsa foam with the FreeD, relying on a computational 3D model. The designer makes decisions during the milling process (a-d), resulting in a unique artifact (e), resulting in a personalized sculpture.


Bottom: model deformation while carving is possible using an override mechanism. The model is smoothly deformed in proportion to the bit’s penetration of the material. (a) the original model, (b) deformation from the left affecting the model and result, (c) deformations of the model from multiple directions.


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