Spark Print Studio
The Autodesk Spark platform needed a software tool capable of handling all workflows for preparing a model to 3D print. The software needed to be able to support different types of 3D printers with different preparation steps (FDM, DLP, and metal printers). Autodesk’s Ember printer was used as the first test case.
I was the UX lead responsible for end-to-end workflows and setting design direction for a team of 2.
I analyzed the workflows and features of competitive print preparation software, assessing the strengths and weaknesses and gathering an understanding of the current landscape.
My team visited several local 3D print shops, and conducted remote interviews with other 3D printing enthusiasts. We discovered several customer pain points and opportunities.
MAPPING AND SENSEMAKING
We used the results of our research to create an experience map, visualizing the entire journey of creating a 3D print. This was used as the basis for planning the application and framing the discussion of software features with the development team and product management.
SKETCHING AND WIREFRAMING
A lot of collaborative and solo sketching happened while we were getting the product off the ground. We were trying to work through both the user interface, and possible ways of visualizing information. I included one example below.
I conceptualized the stepwise workflow UI using the analogy of subway map--a guide to get the user to their destination of a successful print. Each printer has different preparation steps, this UI is modular— the steps change with the printer to guide the user.
PROTOTYPING & TESTING
I created an interactive prototype in Invision and conducted a round of usability tests to test the concept. The modular workflow step UI was clear to most, but testing also uncovered a lot of user assumptions and needs we were able to address before moving into development.
CONFIGURABLE VISUAL DESIGN
Using the Autodesk Spark branding guidelines (icons/fonts/colour palette), I created high fidelity design of the interface.
I worked with the branding team to create a style guide that could be adapted for different types of printers. Some did not want the Spark branding, so our system needed to accomodate their branding colors while still remaining cohesive.
One challenge in creating 3D printing software is designing the holistic experience—taking an object from a digital file to printed result. For example, most 3D printers require support structures to be generated for overhanging pieces, these structures are removed and discarded when the print finishes. Several different algorithms for creating support structures were developed, and a great deal of testing and iteration was done to not only define workflows, but determine validity of the supports. This was a great opportunity for co-working and collaborating with both QA and development to get correct algorithm parameters.
Several printer manufacturers are now looking to ship with the Print Studio as their preparation software. Using certain app modules, we developed small web 3D printing widgets for Dremel.
App modules are being turned into a 3D printing platform to be integrated into other Autodesk software products.