The digital revolution has fundamentally changed our lives by giving us new ways to express ourselves through digital media. For example, accessible multimedia content creation tools allow people to instantiate their ideas and share them easily. However, most of these outcomes only exist on-screen and online. Despite the growing accessibility of digital design and fabrication tools the physical world and everyday objects surrounding us have been largely excluded from a parallel explosion of possibilities to express ourselves. Increasingly, web based services allow professional and non- professional audiences to access computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tools like 3D-printing and laser-cutting. Nonetheless, there are few (if any) design tools and methods for creating complex mechanical assemblies that take full advantage of CAM systems. Creating unique mechatronic artifacts or “Original Machines” requires more specic and sophisticated design tools than exist today. “Object-Oriented Mechatronics” allows the user to gain control over all aspects of the machine-object including not only its shape, form, size, and material properties, but also its functionality, control, and animation.
Original Machines uses the computer and computational tools holistically to integrate design, fabrication and controls overcoming the limitations of both the kit-of-parts approach and the free-form process. It is a parametric design methodology that connects knowledge about mechanical assemblies and electronics with the requirements of digital manufacturing processes. Parametric instances like gears, bearing and servos are made available as objects within a CAD environment which can then be implemented into specific projects. The approach addresses the missing link between accessible rapid-manufacturing services and currently available design tools thereby creating new opportunities for self-expression through mechatronic objects and machines.