CAD Enabling Smart Handtools

Goyal, P. "CAD Enabling Smart Handtools"


CAD (Computer Aided Design) software allows one to describe a design in great detail and at any arbitary scale. However, our interface to CAD is still largely through traditional avenues: screen, keyboard and pointing devices. While these interfaces function for their intended purposes: text entry, pointing, browsing, etc, they are not designed for the purpose of mediating the flow of information from and to a physical workpiece. Traditional input interfaces are limited in the sense that they lack a direct connection with the workpiece, forcing the user to translate information gathered from the workpiece before it can be input into the computer. A similar disconnect also exists in the realm of output from the computer. On one extreme, the screen as an output interface forces the user to interpret and translate information conveyed graphically to the context of the workpiece at hand. On the other extreme, devices like CNC machines and 3D printers lack a way for the user to engage with the fabrication and to iteratively change design parameters in realtime.

In this work, I present, two handtools that build on the philosophy of Free-D, a smart milling tool recently developed in our research group. to create a similar interface between Computer Aided Design and the physical workpiece, in en- tirely different application domains. The two handtools are BoardLab and Nishanchi. BoardLab is a smart, context-aware oscilloscope probe that can be used to dynami- cally search for just-in-time information on electronic circuit board design data and to automatically annotate the design data with measurements and test data. Nishanchi is a handheld inkjet printer and 3D digitizer that can be used to print raster graphics on non-conformable surfaces.

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