Project: Realvision Online- 3D Printing software
Description: REALvision is a 3D printing slicer software developed by Create it REAL- an R&D company, specialized in the development of 3D printing technologies. The need of a cross-platform alternative of the software emerged as the company grew and started to expand its market horizons. In order to re-design an old interface I conducted a background research, followed by a design process based on an iterative design methodology. The methods used made it possible for the team to develop a High-fidelity prototype, ready to be user tested in the future.
Problem: How may we shorten 3D printing process?
Solution: Browser-based slicing platform.
Target Group: The target audience both for REALvision WPF and REALvision-Cross Platform are 3D printer’s manufacturers, 3D printing engineers, designers and experts.
1. Research - Market research, value proposition
2. Define- Problem definition, Minimum implementation criteria- Affinity mapping. Persona.
3. Ideate- Low fidelity sketches, User Flow
4. Prototype- Invision prototype, 1.0 version
5. Test- Internal testing, Release
Working with the previous version of REALvision
My goal with the re-design was to preserve the navigation patterns of the previous versions of the software. The reason for this is that the company already had a user base and it would be easier for them to switch from one version to another. I preserved the core functionality, placement and semiotics of icons and other UI elements. I located UI elements, such as information, guides and slice preview, in the same place in the interface. Having this information and goals in place, the sketching phase begun. During that phase, I used an iterative method called design funnel to create a number of layouts and design ideas.
Designing for scalability
Throughout the years the company kept developing REALvision and need of an online version of the slicer emerged. The main prerequisite was to design an interface of a slicer software with more modern feel that could easily serve as a mobile application, website or a desktop app. I conducted background research in the state of art, to get inspiration on navigation and communication patterns of similar software packages. Material Guidelines and Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines Interface guidelines served to inform my awareness of cross platform design patterns. The above mentioned research provided a base for building a usable and functional interface.
Minimum Implementation and functionality Requirements
For the first version of the software, we decided to reproduce just a limited functionality from REALvision. To give an example, one of the shortcomings was that it was only possible to open one object at a time. The goal of this version was to provide the user with a set of predefined 3D printing settings that would guarantee a successful print. Consequenly, only the basic settings were implemented out of the four levels of setting complexity.
How does it work? The flow
When the user starts the program, they are presented with an empty work-space and a set of icons organised in a toolbar at the bottom of the screen. When “add an object” icon is pressed, the browsing window opens, where the user is able to choose a desired object. When the object is opened, the tab which allows the object’s transformations appears on the right side of the interface. All the other settings are meant to be displayed in the right side of the screen as well. The ability to download a 3d model for 3d printing from MyMiniFactory(an online community providing 3D printable objects) is implemented as a part of the menu. The objects can be downloaded and opened directly in the software.