ProtoPiper Will Help You Build Full-Size Wireframe Prototypes
It can be a real hassle to try and figure out if a new piece of furniture works in your space. Here to make it a little easier, however, is the ProtoPiper, which is a modified tape gun that helps users quickly create a full-scale model of any object, helping them know how big it is and whether or not it will properly fit in the home.
The device was developed by a team of researchers at the Human Computer Interaction lab at Hasso-Plattner-Institut. It's similar to a 3D printer in that it allows users to build prototypes for testing, but using the ProtoPiper, prototypes can be built in minutes rather than hours. Of course, it will ignore all the details. It delivers an open framework similar to the wireframe models on 3D-modeling software.
Using the ProtoPiper, users can essentially create frames for products, and the end result can be much larger than anything output from the average 3D printer. To do this, rather than layering melted plastic, the ProtoPiper uses rolls of tape that it turns into strong and lightweight plastic tubes.
The ProtoPiper works with custom software, automatically drawing tape from a roll and shaping that tape into tubes that can be cut and stuck together into larger products. In a matter of a few minutes, users can see if a particular table will fit in the living room and how it might look next to other furniture in the room. Of course, it's important to note that you can't build actual furniture using ProtoPiper as the end product won't support your weight.
It can, however, build things that are destined to do more then be thrown out once you pull the trigger on the actual furniture. The team behind the device demonstrates this through an umbrella that is collapsible. It won't keep rain off your head in its current form, but it could help companies prototype different umbrella designs and find the right size for an umbrella.