PhD in Design research with Data and AI to Servitize Professional Printing

PhD in Design research with Data and AI to Servitize Professional Printing

Published Deadline Location
1 Mar 7 Apr Eindhoven

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We are seeking an Industrial Design PhD candidate for the “Design, Data and AI in Servitizing Professional Printing” research project.

Job description

Project overview

This design research project is situated in the context of professional printing, a broad category from large format printing of posters and banners to high-volume printing of books, magazines, and flyers. As you can imagine, the machines used for this are complex and they need professionals to operate them. In a way, you can think of these machines as small 'factories in a box': paper sheets are loaded, pre-processed, brought to the right temperature, fed into a printing engine, sheets are turned around, collected, folded, and so on—until the final product is ready. This complex system is modular and configurable, so different types of print jobs can be run as fast as possible. On the human side, operators load and monitor the machines, service technicians maintain and repair print engines, and engineers develop new types of engines and invent novel ways to overcome production challenges such as print quality and speed, or environmental factors.

Now, what about the design team? They work on a lot more than what you might imagine, from physical printer components to tangible user interfaces, web-based workflow management systems and documentation. They look at the services and processes around operation, maintenance and service, and they research the future of professional printing. And that's where you come in!

This project offers a fully funded 4-year design-research PhD position. In this design research position, you will explore how to design for and evaluate workflow integrations for these printing systems. Your project focuses on generating propositions for the design of adaptive, personalized user interfaces. You will design, implement, and evaluate new interfaces and workflow support for specific use cases. This project aims to generate new knowledge regarding workflow design for smart operator support, workflow-oriented and servitized predictive maintenance, and advances in the user interface design of high-tech systems. Together with a second design research candidate at ID, you will focus on design, data and AI tools and methods that give the design team more insight in (1) how users compose their UI ecosystem, and (2) how different users utilize printers and software in their workflows. Methodologically, we will rely on data-supported ethnography, data-enabled design, and research-through-design. Throughout the project, we see opportunities to work with generative AI in product and UI adaptation for better workflow support.

Project background

Canon Production Printing (CPP,, formerly Océ, is a leading multinational manufacturer of high-end digital inkjet printing hardware and software for professional printing markets. CPP solutions are used by variety of customers in different markets, having different business models. In addition to supporting diverse businesses, CPP printing solutions are also used in varied ways and workflows, at different scales and process integrations. Even between two similar types of customers there might be considerable differences in how they organize their work, both at company and at operator level. To address this diversity, CPP is developing the Pigment Design System as one design system across the whole hardware and software portfolio. The Pigment Design System is the basis for all user interfaces (UI), making them highly flexible and customizable for an optimal and personalized experience. How users configure and interact with these UIs gives CPP an understanding about customer workflows and how CPP products are used in these workflows.

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e,  is one of Europe's leading research universities. The Eindhoven area, in the southern part of the Netherlands, is one of Europe's top 'innovation ecosystems', with many high-tech companies and institutes. TU/e is intertwined with many of these companies and institutes, and research at TU/e is characterized by a combination of academic excellence, industrial relevance, and societal interweaving. The Department of Industrial Design (ID) of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), founded in 2001, is the home for design research and education at TU/ewith over 850 students, both Bachelor and Master, 100 PhD students and postdocs, and around 45 research staff members. The mission of the department of Industrial Design at TU/e is Research on and Education in the Design of Systems with Emerging Technologies in a Societal Context. The position is situated within the research cluster of 'Future Everyday'. The Future Everyday cluster investigates the everyday interactions between individual people and the highly interconnected technology that surrounds them. Researchers in the Future Everyday cluster measure, model and design for the user experience when individuals interact with social-technological networks in various professional settings in the high-tech industry.

Be part of an innovative multi-disciplinary team

In your PhD project, you will explore the research question by applying the research-through-design methodology with hands-on designing and prototyping in close contact with the CPP R&D teams, users, and stakeholders of the Pigment Design System such as UX architects, UX designers, Visual UX Designers, Quality Leads and Workflow Architects. You will also collaborate closely with other design research PhD candidates at the Industrial Design department. Together, you will share design research methods, data, AI models, and technological platforms as complementary focus points. These will be closely involved in the co-creation process. Given the multi-disciplinarity of designers and researchers at CPP and TU/e, we will be able to rely on experts in design and design research but also data mining, process mining, federated learning, and hybrid machine-learning approaches to further refine analysis and design propositions.

The PhD will be under the supervision of Prof. dr. Lin-Lin Chen and Dr. Mathias Funk in the Department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology. The project will be executed in collaboration with Canon Production Printing, Venlo; Frederique de Jongh of CPP is closely involved in the supervision of the PhD position. The project will be part of the TU/e EAISI program and therefore share, learn, and disseminate within the EAISI community and through the TU/e master programs Data Science and AI, AI in Engineering Systems. The project aims for open-access publishing of widely applicable methods and is organized to enable close collaboration and colocation of researchers from the project partners.

Prospective starting date: May 1, 2024.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


  • A Masters degree in an Industrial Design related discipline (e.g. Interaction Design, UX Design, Design Research). The degree needs to be obtained before the prospective starting date of this position.
  • A design portfolio demonstrating skills and knowledge in contextual design exploration, digital fabrication, and interactive prototyping (of AI-enabled solutions).
  • Good conceptual design skills for UI and data visualization.
  • A commitment to research through design, reflection, and co-design. Affinity with user research and user evaluation.
  • Hands-on programming skills for (generative) AI and data visualization, and knowledge and skills in programming languages (e.g., Python, Java, JavaScript), data visualization libraries and tools (e.g. D3).
  • Ability to conduct and deliver high quality research both independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Openness, interest, and good soft skills to work closely with people from other disciplines and across organizations.
  • Eager to learn and tackle complex industrial challenges. Experience working in an industrial (design) context is a plus.
  • Fluency in English is a must (written and spoken), Dutch (spoken) desirable.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V51.7300


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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