shapeSift: Suggesting sustainable options in design reuse from part repositories

by | Aug 11, 2013

Authors: Devarajan Ramanujan, William Benjamin, William Z. Benstein, Niklas Elmqvist, Karthik Ramani

shapeSift is a framework for supporting sustainability based decision making during selection of similar previous designs from part repositories. Our framework is designed for 3D part repositories that contain metadata pertaining to materials and manufacturing processes as well as the functionality of a given part. To demonstrate the usefulness of the proposed framework we develop an example multi-dimensional visualization that encodes part similarities as well as a calculated environmental sustainability indicator. This visualization is incorporated in a prototype interface that focuses on enhancing the intuitiveness of the exploration process by the use of sketch-based retrieval.


Visualization pipeline for exploring 3d repositories using the shapeSift framework. Users begin by sketch based querying as shown in (1). Our system organizes search results using a squarified layout (2) that is constructed using Brul’s squarified treemap algorithm. Here, each color corresponds to a particular material class. The area of a cell is scaled in negative proportion to the calculated environmental impact indicator. Parts are ordered by shape similarity relative to the query. Users can explore these results further using a similarity polygon (3a), sliders that set values for distance threshold (3b) and interactive tooltips (3c). The combination of these steps forms a unit iteration that can be repeated as desired by the user.

Demonstration Video


Dev Ramanujan

Dev Ramanujan

Dev is starting as an Assistant Professor - Design Research at Aarhus University this in Fall 2017. He was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Global Engineering and Research Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Feb 2016 - June 2017. He received his PhD in Dec 2015 from the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue. His research work in the C Design Lab focused on data representation and visualization models for supporting environmentally conscious product design. He has co-authored publications in the Journal of Mechanical Design, Journal of Computing and Information Science, Computer-Aided Design, Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineering International Design Engineering Technical Conferences. He has received the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Design for Manufacturing and the Lifecycle Scholar Development Award in 2014, and the Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015.  [Linked In Profile] [Personal Web Page]