Additive manufacturing is a budding industry, yet like any manufacturing process, one key goal for those who run operations is to get the most out of their equipment.
Dashboard applications gather and store data points from sensors, and then use simple analytic calculations and visualizations to provide users visibility into the performance of a plant floor full of large laser 3D printers. The key metric for the dashboards is an Availability Score, which is a calculation of the printing productivity of each additive printer and aggregate score for each manufacturing plant.
The other key information to display is individual printing progress at the manufacturing plant view.
Initial mockups included an Availability Score visualized with a circular donut chart. However, while concept testing with stakeholders and end users, I quickly realized that donut charts are used for circular progress bars on the 3D printers to indicate printing progress. Using the same visualization for another metric (Availability Score) created confusion, so I changed the visualization to be a simple number and color indicator as indicated in the final mockup above.
User Research
I had the fortunate opportunity to visit an additive manufacturing facility in Ohio where aircraft engines parts are manufactured using advanced 3D printing technologies. I couldn’t resist the photo-op, a selfie with a giant aircraft engine in the background.
I got to witness the manufacturing process, and most importantly talk to real users in their contextual environments. This gave me first-hand anecdotal data that helped me identify product opportunities.
Product Strategy
I mapped out roles and user tasks with a simple journey map which was a powerful tool to help identify product opportunities and key personas.
One key insight that I gathered during the site visit is that Operators are often “on call”, so they want to monitor printer status remotely. This insight led to a few mobile design concepts.
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