In this study we explore the cognitive challenges of the complex assembly involved with digitally fabricated structures. This process is generally referred to as planar assembly, where flat parts are press-fit together. We devised interlocking jigsaw puzzles composed of different shapes to test the understanding of spatial relationships between parts.
By changing the axial rotations in the puzzles, such as rotating the X, Y, and Z orientations, we found that people had a more difficult time of understanding the shapes.
The puzzles were created by subtracting a sphere from within a cube. This boolean shape was then sliced along two perpendicular axes. The axes were subdivided into interlocking parts.
Other shapes can be made as well, for example, cones within rectangular solids, spheres within pyramids, or wedges within cylinders.
The subjects interacted with the puzzle pieces to see the emergent puzzle shapes, the sphere and cube. They aligned and ordered the pieces by size to determine location. By studying these interactions we may be able to automate assembly through visual object recognition. With a simple camera and motion path generator a robotic arm could solve assembly problems.