3D Printing Tools for Treating Dyslexia

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Dyslexia is not an uncommon disorder, and it affects only writing, not speech or any other aspect of life. It is frequently diagnosed in early childhood, and specialized teaching devices are used to treat it. In a paper entitled “Design and production of plastic parts for read-write didactic equipment using 3D printer,” a group of researchers discusses using 3D printing to design and produce parts of this teaching equipment.

“At present, there are several equipment used for the read / write stage (RO 94948 patent), a teaching apparatus for literacy and word formation, consisting of a cassette with alveoli, in front of which are printed signs and letters,” the researchers explain. “Letters can be found also written on some cards stored in the corresponding spaces of the box and a board for placing the corresponding cards for word formation…These write-read learning devices are rather difficult to handle, do not allow the word to be correlated with a visual representation of that word, while there is also the possibility of making misspelled words by misleading the letters, or the dificulty of letter combinations for preschool children and at the same time unattractive.”

The researchers’ design uses few parts, 3D printed from PLA on a Smartrap 3D printer. The design consists of a trapezoidal prism-shaped casing with two viewing windows. A continuous tape with letters, signs and figures is placed near the upper window. The tape can be rolled inside the casing on two rollers. Disks were also engraved with letters, punctuation marks and a free space. Vowels and consonants are inscribed in two different colors.

Each disk took 2.25 hours to 3D print. For the final design, the researchers eliminated the plastic casing. They were satisfied with the results overall, and remarked upon 3D printing’s ability to create complex designs with fine details. The advantages of 3D printing also included the ability to easily change the design as needed, according to the researchers, but when it comes to educational tools, there are many more advantages to be had. Many traditionally manufactured educational tools are pricey, and schools can only afford one or a few for each classroom. This limits the amount of time each student can work with the tools, which then limits the educational effect. 3D printing, however, is inexpensive and quick, and can be used to manufacture these tools in greater quantity, so that each student can have his or her own device and can even take them home.

Dyslexia can make life difficult for sufferers, and a lack of engaging, easy-to-use educational tools only adds to the frustration and difficulty. The researchers do not report in the paper whether they gave their 3D printed devices to any students to try out, but it would be interesting to find out how they were received, in comparison to the standard tools used in the classroom for treating dyslexia. 3D printing is a helpful way to produce new and creative solutions to educational issues, and has shown itself before to be an effective means of replacing outdated classroom tools.

Authors of the paper include A. Ciubară,  Ș. L. Burlea, M. Axinte, R. Cimpoeșu, D. L. Chiquet, V. Manole, G. Burlea and N. Cimpoeșu.

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