3D Printed Gloves for Wheelchair Racing Introduce Student to Making

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Arielle Rausin, a junior in the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is enrolled in the Digital Making course with Dr. Vishal Sachdev. The assignment for the course was fairly broad: make something in the Illinois MakerLab, the world’s first business school 3D printing lab. As many students do when presented with such a task, she thought about her own experiences and how they might be improved through 3D printing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 8.13.50 AMAs a member of the varsity wheelchair racing team, an important part of her everyday equipment is her racing gloves. Currently, they are manufactured by hand and are very time consuming to create. If a person doesn’t have access to custom made gloves, the only other option is to order them online, in which case they only come in three sizes and the quality is not what it should be. When using gloves with a poor fit, there is an impact both on the racer’s time and on their comfort and, therefore, the customization offered by 3D printing seemed like an ideal means by which to approach making better fitting gloves more widely available.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 8.16.26 AMShe began by visiting the Beckman Institute’s Visualization Lab on Illinois’ campus with a pair of custom gloves that she already owns and using their equipment to create a scan of the pair. Using them as a model, she was able to quickly create a pair of gloves that fit…like gloves. The real proof of success came after she put them to use.

“So far, on the gloves that I have, I have put over 500 miles on them and they haven’t cracked; they haven’t splintered. They are very, very durable, which is really cool,” said Rausin.

Having tested them herself, her hopes are to be able to get everybody on the team their own pair of custom fitted, 3D printed gloves. At this point, this process requires that she scan each pair of custom made gloves already owned by members of the team, for a total of 22 pairs. However, her plans are to work to create a process by which custom gloves could be made without requiring a scan of an existing pair.

“The next step,” Rausin noted, “is to try and come up with a design process so that we could have someone who could get a printed glove without having an original scanned. We are trying to work out a way to scan the hand or scan some Play Doh or some clay or something that would give a mold of the hand and put that into the software. So if I could have anyone, from around the country, send me a scan of their hand, I could, hypothetically, send them a glove in return.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 8.15.58 AMAn obviously enthusiastic Rausin was interviewed by Dr. Sachdev for his YouTube series Meet the Maker and demonstrates the unique potential offered by combining students’ individual experiences, a business mindset, and the craft of a maker.

Let us know what you think of this project in the 3D Printed Gloves forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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