Resisting plastics for ambiguous results

This paper illustrates present a constructive design research process centred around 3D printing with a wood-based material. This process was highly explorative: it involves the development of a new material and the use and hacking of a machine to materialize a design intention. Along the way, elements of craft emerge, as the designers develop skills in navigating the tensions that exist between material, machine and design intention.

We present the process of navigating this design space by unpacking the act of making, using a digital fabrication technique, through a lens of craftsmanship. We employ the notions of ambiguity and resistance, to understand the factors and forces at play that may not typically be considered to be part of a highly automated digital fabrication method, such as 3D printing.

As a result of this detailed reflection, new parts of the design space were articulated. All resistances appear as a result of the tension between and designer’s skills and intention, capabilities of the machine and possibilities of the material, all materialised in the Printed Future Vase.

This publication contributes to the development of a new additive manufacturing method, and increases our awareness of what factors and forces are at play in this new additive manufacturing method, in which the development of the designer’s tacit skills have been articulated more explicitly.