Artisanal Electronics

A thesis on digital fabrication and electronic products

What is it I’m trying to do?

Posted on | December 27, 2010 | No Comments

This thesis addresses the lack of diversity in consumer electronic products. In contrast to the variation found in furniture, clothing, and other areas, most electronics use similar materials, aesthetics, production processes, and business models. In particular, the cases or enclosures for electronic devices tend be made from molded plastic, a process which has high up-front tooling costs and therefore favors mass production and standardization. My thesis explores the possibilities for the use of digital fabrication machines (e.g. laser cutters and 3D printers) in the production of consumer electronic products and its implications for the designs of the objects, the possibilities for customization, and the associated production and business models. Through case studies, I explore the unique possibilities and constraints of various fabrication machines and processes and attempt to derive general lessons and best practices.


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Chronicling the master's thesis of David A. Mellis, a student in the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab.


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