Craft-Inspired Digital Fabrication: A Study of Interactive Robotic Clay Carving

Iremnur Tokac, Benay Gursoy, Herman Bruyninckx, Andrew Vande Moere

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


Digital fabrication workflow is typically linear that starts from ideating a design form via 3d-modelling or programming, later ends fabricating this predetermined design form. In this linear workflow, design ideation must finish before making/fabrication begins. As a result, designers often miss the opportunity to design with material affordances, such as discovering and incorporating intricate material expressions that can only emerge through an enactive and embodied process of making. Knowing that such process of making forms the cornerstone of craft, this study investigates how digital fabrication can gain craft-like qualities by allowing material expressions to be gradually discovered and mastered. We thus developed an interactive fabrication system by integrating force feedback into a robotic clay carving process. Real-time force feedback allows improvisational control of carving actions by manually interacting with the robotic end effector on-the-fly. Accordingly, carved clay expressions are continuously modified during fabrication. Our results demonstrate that this approach allows intricate material expressions to serendipitously appear, which in turn inspire new design ideas to form and gradually develop. Our contributions include: 1) a new enactive and embodied interaction modality that continuously regenerates a self-similar fabrication action sequence so that its design space can be gradually learned; 2) a craft-inspired digital fabrication workflow that supports on-the-fly design ideation by sequentially sketching, isolating, and composing an intricate material expression; and 3) a collection of critical considerations that propose how our findings could help integrate more improvisation, serendipity, and reflection in digital fabrication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - SCF 2022 - 7th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication
EditorsStephen N. Spencer
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450398725
StatePublished - Oct 26 2022
Event7th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication, SCF 2022 - Seattle, United States
Duration: Oct 26 2022Oct 28 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings - SCF 2022 - 7th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication


Conference7th Annual ACM Symposium on Computational Fabrication, SCF 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Applied Mathematics


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