Simulation, Prototyping and Experimentation - The Potential of the Maker Labs to Achieving a Design-Driven HFE
Participatory Ergonomics design processes need intermediary objects to anticipate future activity and integrate team’s thoughts on the improvements of the work situation. These objects enable users and designers to dialogue and develop together a new representation of the work analyzed. The group needs to discuss, touch and test many variables, thus being required to engaging in simulation, prototyping and experimentation activities. Thus, maker labs’ potential for a design-driven Human Factors and Ergonomics relates to the tools and techniques for facilitating the technical and social construction of the design process. This paper aims to achieve a better understanding on the potential of this kind of labs in fostering a design-driven HFE based on three practical experiences carried-out by the authors. The first case reports a new product development project of physical evaluation apparatus focusing both ergonomics aspects (for the professional who uses it as work tool) and usability aspects (to the patient/user). A second case highlights the development, prototyping and simulation of a walking aid for people with motor skills impairment. The final case highlights the benefits of using 3D printed models as an intermediary object in a workshop for ergonomics and design education. Results achieved so far point toward the promising potential that maker labs’ technologies have in the context of ergonomics practice and education. Among the main benefits from simulation, prototyping and experimentation we highlight the ability to quickly produce scale physical models for fostering understanding throughout design processes, the testing of products/parts with custom made specification (including anatomical shapes) with low costs associated, and the ability to physically build and manipulate designs that usually would only be represented as virtual renderings or drawings.
KeywordsMaker labs Innovation 3D printing Design process Intermediary objects
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