Improving The 3D Printing Service Experience On Campus: Part 1

I had pleasure working on this project with Surabhi and Alyson, both are my classmates doing masters in user experience and interaction design at Thomas Jefferson University USA.

My Role: User experience researcher

So yeah! we were given a task of conducting observations on campus and decide on a project direction, define the problem and develop a hypothesis.
I personally had worked in the 3D printing shop in my previous semester, had faced problems with the workflow, so decided to conduct our research on improving the 3D printing service experience on campus. I, Surabhi and Alyson visited the 3D printing shop and conducted our observation in order to understand the process of how it works.

From my past experience, these were some of the pain points I had noted down.
- Most students do not know about the common email
-students didn’t know if their projects files were received once they had sent it to the shop monitor.
- No update on the progress of their project
-no update on the printer condition and material availability

Keeping this in mind we went and did our observations

Current way the printer conditions and email Id was displayed
current way the 3D priting form and email ID being displayed

User Persona

In order get better insights we spoke to the shop monitor, graduate and undergraduate students

After interviewing the shop monitor we created a user persona to represent the insights of the interview.

Persona 1

User persona of sam, the shop monitor

Research insights from Sam’s interview

  • Emailing every student and keeping them updated is hard

Quote: “I had to do evething, I wish I had a robotic arm in the 3D printing shop”

Persona 2

We interviewed Julia who is an graduate Industrial design students, she is currently working on her capstone project

User persona of Julia

Research Insights

  • I love to stay updated during the printing process.

Quote: “I am not aware of the 3D printing services on campus, I do print most of my projects from the paid vendor outside the school.”

After taking conducting the interviews we received a few questions from the students

  • Hey, can please let me know the current protocol of 3D printing services on campus?

which highlighted the pain points the students faced.

From the information, we collected we mapped out the user journey and some the problems they faced along the way

Mapping the user Journey

Surabhi made an awesome video based on the above user journey

we learned concepts of storyboarding and created the following video

user journey of Colin and his painpoints

Competitive Research

After understanding the users well and getting the better insights we did competitive research, to look into products which could closely address our needs. we came across a company named 3DPrintingOS, it’s a 3D printing Management system. We Also looked into other competitor products ( can’t disclose much info here) and we looked into what was making their service better ? why were people going for their service?

The main insights we got was the reliability, personal connection with the user and the vendor and better communication.

so we did like SWOT Analysis to see if the competitor’s product will address our needs and fit the university context.

we kinda invented this method haha.

Card sorting

we categorised the 3D printing journey into 3 stages

Before 3D printing — During 3D printing — After 3D printing

Noted down the pain points the users were going through along their journey

Validating Assumptions

we validated some of our assumptions by sending out the survey to 15 users from our focused group. Some of the following assumptions we had made along the way were.

  • Students don’t know when their project files are received, they feel they are in dark after sending the files.
  • Most students aren’t aware of the lab timings

Empathy Mapping

In order to understand how the users, think and feel, hear, see, say and their pains and gains we did the empathy mapping

Surabhi writing the users pain
Empathy mapping

At this stage of the project, our research was getting narrowed down and we were getting some insights on what are some the needs our products should meet. we applied the MoSCoW research method in order to understand the must-have, should have, could have and won't have, in order to give direction to the features of the product.

Happy us listing down the features

Fom the above research method we wrote down the insights.

And finally, after doing the user research we narrowed down the research and defined the problem statement and defined a hypothesis for our project.

Problem Statement

The 3D printing shop on campus lacks reliability and has an inefficient workflow of sending files, getting feedback and communication, thus yields students projects not being completed on time and needing to venture outside the university to have their printing work done.


Our product will standardize the current way of communication and file transferring, this improving workflow and keeping the students updated throughout the process, enabling them to get their prints on time, all the while creating cost efficiencies.


From this, we learned how to interview users, look for the opportunities, pain-points users face. we implemented various research methods like creating user persona, empathy mapping, MoSCoW. we created assumptions along the way and quantified them using google form and analytics. As user experience researchers it’s important to understand the users well and define the right problem and hypothesis in order to create a better experience around the products we design.

In part 2 we will be developing the solution and building a testable prototype to test it with the users.

Thank you for reading!

John Rodrigues

M.S In User Experience and Interaction design| Industrial designer| B.E in Mechanical Engineering| Founder of D&D Smartlabs | lead ambassador at Collaborizm




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store