Shifting expectations: Understanding youth employees’ handoffs in a 3D print shop

William Easley, Foad Hamidi, Wayne G. Lutters, Amy Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As digital fabrication technology has become mainstream, the increased demand for 3D printed objects has created a new market for professional outsourcing. Given that most of this work does not require advanced training, and is an appropriate entry-level manufacturing job, there is an exciting opportunity to employ youth already skilled in "making" and interested in technology to do this work as an after-school job. The combination of this new technology and workforce calls for new workflows that streamline client-driven digital manufacturing. However, the limitations of current digital fabrication technology and youth schedules require that this work be spread between multiple shifts, necessitating employees to coordinate and handoff their work. We investigated the collaborative practices between youth employees while working on client jobs in a 3D print shop during one year of field work. In this paper, we describe instances where youth employees successfully, and unsuccessfully, handed off work between shifts and identify techniques utilized by youth to support successful handoffs, including: Counting physical artifacts, using asynchronous chat programs, and documenting work. We then discuss the impact of the print shop manager’s presence, physical characteristics of 3D prints, and youth perspectives of work on the selection of and effectiveness of these techniques. Finally, we offer lessons learned from successful handoffs in the print shop and recommendations for supporting youth in collaborative work environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • 3D printing
  • After-school employment
  • Shift change
  • Workplace collaboration
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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