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MakerBot-LogoMakerBot, a company known for their down-to-earth focus on their users and the community, is diving into a collaboration that will use the art and technology of 3D printing to benefit those with disabilities.

Working with Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), MakerBot will be partnering up for the Bay Area Makeathon, which is sponsored by Google and UCP of the North Bay with an agenda to put engineers, designers, developers, and makers to work for 72 hours.

UntitledLooking toward harnessing the expertise of a large group that will be able to assess and meet the needs of those with disabilities via 3D printing, all of those associated with the makeathon will join up for three days of intense making, sharing, and learning–with the result being 3D printed products that can positively impact lives.

MakerBot pros will be onsite helping participants at the event, September 11-13 at San Francisco’s TechShop. Partner TOM is best known as being a global community of creative designers and innovators from all realms who “seek to solve unmet societal needs.”

“Desktop 3D printing democratizes medical innovation and opens up a whole new world of possibilities for disabled people around the world. Low-cost prosthetics, such as the Robohand, have already made a significant impact and improved the lives of many,” said Yuri Salnikoff, CMO of MakerBot. “We are excited to partner with TOM to showcase the power of 3D printing and push the boundaries of assistive technology. We can’t wait to see what the participants create.”

The Makeathon in San Francisco is one project in a comprehensive program known as Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. Covering a wide range of issues and events, this substantial program for helping people with disabilities offers inclusion in everything from honoring disabilities activists to creating “an immersive, interactive space” at the Special Olympics.

The team of innovators will be working specifically to help create items that solve challenges for the disabled with products that aren’t found as ‘off-the-shelf’ products but are needed. In attendance at the San Fran event will be not only a versatile group of makers but also disabled individuals who obviously have valuable input as the group works to develop prototypes using MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D printers, CNC mills, laser cutters, and sandblasters.

The event will result in projects being presented to judges on September 13, with prizes offered for the best entries, consisting of what should be an impressive range of hardware and software prototypes.

“Our aim is to gather the best minds in technology and design to address the needs of people with disabilities,” said Sefi Attias, CTO at TOM. “We gather to solve problems together and hope to change the world in 72 hours, or at least make it a slightly more livable place.”

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Tech Shop San Francisco

Judges will be:

  • Anupam Pathak, senior engineer at Google Life and founder of Liftware
  • Dale Dougherty, CEO of Maker Media
  • Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot
  • Tom Chi, former head of product experience at Google X
  • Margaret Farman, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay
  • Michael Dubno, retired Wall Street technology executive, inventor, maker, machinist, and welder
  • Zebreda Dunham, born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, who maintains the website Zebreda Makes It Work

Following the event, the much-awaited designs will be available on Thingiverse and then, to take the project to an even higher level, the Thingiverse community will be invited and challenged to see if they can make further refinements to the Makeathon designs.

While shade is cast on 3D printing every now and then regarding some pretty intense subjects like the independent fabrication of guns, the possibility for making 3D printed drugs, with various other sundry items thrown into the mix, for the most part this is a technology connected with and used for good, with massive undertakings like this from Google and all involved being a prime example. We look forward to following the results of this challenge, as well as seeing what the Thingiverse community produces as well.

Discuss your thoughts on what types of designs you think might come out of this project, or what would be helpful to those with disabilities in the Bay Area 3D Printing Makeathon forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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