Thinking Out of the Box

3D Printing Experiences: A Handle for a Novint Falcon Controller

Niki Hermkes
Niki Hermkes
September 1st, 2017

When I first heard of Centigrade in 2015, I was looking for a design company where I could complete my internship for school. The internship was successful and since then I have been working at Centigrade as an Assistant User Interface Designer. Besides working in many visual and conceptual design projects, I could gather first experiences for Centigrade in the field of 3D printing.

UseCase “DeepGrip”

My task was to design a handle for the Novint Falcon Controller, a device which translates our hand movements into inputs, e.g. within a VR simulation. This allows us to create a very authentic experience in VR games.

Novint Falcon without adjusted handle

In this case it is not a game software but a project in which Centigrade managed to connect a Virtual Reality (VR) simulation, which is normally only visually accessible, with a haptic feedback.In VR applications, the way users can interact with the virtual world is empirically important. At the beginning, there is the expectation to be able to interact with the virtual objects as naturally as with their “real” counterparts. Some technologies like the HTC Vive are shipped with controllers which users can hold in their hands but there are also other possibilities of interaction with objects in virtual reality. You can find details about this project blog article from august 2015.

For DeepGrip, we used the Novint Falcon Controller. We knew the way the grip feels and how it is designed would have a big impact on the user experience.

The first “quick and dirty” version of the grip was lovingly hand-crafted from wood and one half of a toilet paper holder but as well outdated, especially because there are new possibilities with 3D printing.

Style Definition

After I collected the first ideas and created sketches, we decided to go with a LowPoly design version of the grip.

Sketches for 3D Printing

Before I moved on to create the final model, I decided to make a fast, rough concept model without much detail or exact measurements first to have an idea of the final product. This proved to be a good idea because the design stood in heavy contrast with the FalconGrip. We decided to dismiss the LowPoly look in favor of a more smooth and curved design we found in the first sketches.

Modelling

The most time consuming part of the project was the design of a 3D model within a couple of hours at the PC. Then the design was finished. I used the freeware program Blender, probably the most common 3D design software out there. I already worked with it before, although I am not an expert. This was not an issue since it is not necessary to be an expert in Blender for the task on hand. Blender is a pretty complex and versatile program but the basics for static 3D Models in Blender are quite easy to learn. If you want to dive more deeply into Blender and create wholesome animations or even games, it gets more complicated.

3D Design in Blender

Although Blender’s possibilities are very versatile, some of the tools are bad, unfortunately. For example the measure tool, which was necessary to use in this project. We had to stick to exact measurement so the print would fit the device perfectly but the handling of the tool was very impractical to use.

With the help from some workmates this was not a big obstacle and after around 16 hours the model was ready to be printed.

Print

Two weeks after we had chosen a 3D printing-service and decided on one of the many printing materials, we could hold the grip in our hands for the first time. The first enthusiasm was gone quickly, after we realized that the grip does not fit the Falcon. In spite of the exact measuring, there were inaccuracies during printing. So I took the nearest grinding machine and adjusted the print until it fit the device.

Refinement

Our takeaway for upcoming 3D printing projects: Designing the objects a little to big is better than designing it to small, because excess material can be ground off!

In the end I went over the grip with a Montana can so the color would also fit the Falcon. That is how the first 3D print in the history of Centigrade was created.

Finished Handle for DeepGrip

Want to know more about our services, products or our UX process?
We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Luzie Seeliger

Project Coordination and Communication

+49 681 959 3110

Contact form

  • Saarbrücken

    Science Park Saar, Saarbrücken

    South West Location

    Headquarter Saarbrücken
    Centigrade GmbH
    Science Park 2
    66123 Saarbrücken
    Germany
    Saarland
    On the map

    +49 681 959 3110

    +49 681 959 3119

  • Mülheim an der Ruhr

    Games Factory Mühlheim an der Ruhr

    North West Location

    Office Mülheim
    Centigrade GmbH
    Kreuzstraße 1-3
    45468 Mülheim an der Ruhr
    Germany
    North Rhine-Westphalia
    On the map

    +49 208 883 672 89

    +49 681 959 3119

  • Haar · Munich

    Haar / München

    South Location

    Office Munich
    Centigrade GmbH
    Bahnhofstraße 18
    85540 Haar · Munich
    Germany
    Bavaria
    On the map

    +49 89 20 96 95 94

    +49 681 959 3119

  • Frankfurt am Main

    Frankfurt am Main

    Central Location

    Office Frankfurt
    Centigrade GmbH
    Kaiserstraße 61
    60329 Frankfurt am Main
    Germany
    Hesse
    On the map

    +49 69 241 827 91

    +49 681 959 3119