Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Envision the Future: Design a 3D Printed Educational Model for the Visually Impaired

ST Medical Devices

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envisionLast year, a large team effort was launched by the 3D printing community to help one woman. The Within Reach 3D Design Challenge, led by MatterHackers, e-NABLE, Pinshape and Ultimaker, challenged participants to create 3D printable assisitve devices for Brandy Leigh Scott, a woman with a crippling hand condition called Dupuytrens Contracture. Of course, the contest ended up helping many more than just one person, as it resulted in a brand new collection of more than 200 3D printable devices being made freely available to people with conditions that limit the use of their hands.

The success of the Within Reach challenge inspired MatterHackers, e-NABLE and Pinshape to team up again, this time with the help of LulzBot, for a new 3D design challenge. This time, the focus is on the visually impaired. The Envision the Future Design Challenge, which launches today and runs until May 8, asks participants to create one of two things: an assistive device to make daily life easier for a visually impaired person, or a tactile educational model for use in classrooms. Education is definitely the emphasis for this challenge, and participants are invited to design models for any age group, from kindergarten to graduate school.

matterhackers_mara-n-stevie

Mara Hitner talks to Stevie Wonder at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference [Image courtesy of Mara Hitner]

“I first saw the impact that 3D printing could have on the blind and visually impaired when I was at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference last year,” Mara Hitner, Director of Business Development at MatterHackers, told 3DPrint.com. “Watching the excitement of attendees (including Stevie Wonder) interacting with 3D printed math and biology models was incredibly emotional, because I knew there was a worldwide community of designers with 3D printers who would jump at the chance to help create them if they only knew of the need.  A year later, we’re finally bringing the opportunity to life with the help of the e-NABLE community, Lulzbot, and Pinshape.”

Like the Within Reach challenge, Envision the Future is broken down into two age groups to encourage participation from everyone from kids to professional designers. The youth (under 18) and adult (18 and older) categories will each have a first, second and third place winner, with the following prizes:

  • Grand Prize, Youth: a LulzBot Mini 3D printer, a MatterHackers MatterControl T10 3D printer controller, and three spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA filament
  • Grand Prize, Adult: a LulzBot TAZ 6 3D printer, a MatterHackers MatterControl T10 3D printer controller, and three spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA filament
  • Second Place (Youth and Adult): a Crafty Pen 3D printing pen and a $100 MatterHackers gift card
  • Third Place (Youth and Adult): $50 MatterHackers gift card

prizes

To enter, participants should design a tactile model to facilitate education in any subject: examples given by the organizers include busts of historical figures, architectural models, manipulatible math or science tools, animal or plant models, etc. Designs should be uploaded to Pinshape in either the Youth or Adult category, and then participants are invited to get on social media and start sharing pictures and videos of their models with the hashtag #EnvisiontheFuture. They’re also asked to tag @Pinshape, @MatterHackers, @EnableTheFuture and/or @LulzBot3D on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The contest will be judged by Steven Berg, Access Technology Specialist at the Braille Institute; Dave Gaylord, Director of Marketing at MatterHackers; and Jen and Ivan Owen, founders of e-NABLE.

blogheader“We can’t wait to see what creative and innovative designs the community comes up with,” Lauren Watkins, Pinshape team lead, told 3DPrint.com. “After the success of the Within Reach design challenge, we are thrilled to host another contest that brings the 3D printing community together to create assistive devices or learning tools for people with sight impairment. I think the great thing about this challenge is it brings awareness to the daily challenges that people with sight impairment face. It gives the 3D printing community the opportunity to solve real problems for real people and create a positive impact.”

The availability of those opportunities is even more important now that the Enable Community Foundation (ECF) has announced that it will be changing its focus and no longer evaluating, testing or matching recipients to crowdsourced 3D printed hand designs. Don’t get ECF confused with e-NABLE; ECF was formed as an offshoot of e-NABLE to offer support and collaboration, but now it’s moving in a different direction and strictly focusing on working with clinicians, NGOs and other professionals to deliver affordable prosthetics to those in low-income areas. e-NABLE itself is not changing, and will continue to work with the wider 3D printing community to design and deliver prosthetic devices for those in need. Discuss in the Envision the Future forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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