Watch It Wednesday: An AT Perspective on 3-D Printers

November 5, 2014 by - 3 Comments

Watch It Wednesday: An AT Perspective on 3-D Printers
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There has been a lot of buzz about 3-D printers in the past year, a technology that is teeming with potential for assistive technology lovers. In this video, we look at a joint project by Hereward College and the University of Warwick. This is a win-win for the AT users and the students at these universities who are learning prAACtical ways to support people with disabilities. Very prAACtical!

Watch It Wednesday: An AT Perspective on 3-D Printers


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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Thank you thank you – that’s BRILLIANT!

    It’s very clear that 3D printing offers a huge range of assistive technology possibilities and getting people with disabilities to be using it is a great initiative. I hope to see a LOT more of this in the future!

    Now, to figure out something I need so I can do it myself …

    • Carole Zangari says:

      I’m right with you on that, Ricky! Have thought about making customized pointers for clients with motor difficulties but I know there has to be a ton of possibilities, right?!

      • I guess the limitations, relevant to AT at least, for the moment are the size of what can be 3D printed, and the accuracy (as the video showed) and also the strength of the material once it’s printed. Although most of those can be overcome if you can afford to get your product commercially printed and then shipped to you – not the size so much. And of course you’re limited by the process in what shapes can be printed, but again that can mostly be overcome. Things I’ve thought of that seem to be mostly feasible at the moment include:

        * Super-big handles for things to make gripping easier – things like pencil handles, stylus grips, toothbrush and cutlery grips, etc. Print them with a hole in the middle to fit the object in.
        * Very small ramps. I saw a guy who designed and 3D printed some small triangle-shaped wedges to use as portable wheelchair ramps so he could get into those annoying places with a half a step at the front door.
        * Wedges to exactly adjust the angle of things which are already positioned but are not quite right. Wedges to adjust the angle of wheelchair footplates, for example, to be more comfy for feet. Wedges to adjust the angle an iPhone is mounted at.
        * Stands/feet/stoppers to mount small objects on to stop them sliding away, as shown in the video for the environmental controls and AAC device.
        * Mounts, especially for fiddly objects that are traditionally hard to mount. A mount that held a switch at just the right height and angle for example, or a temporary mount you could sit a mouthstick on so when you drove your wheelchair up to it it would be just where it needed to be so you could grab it.

        If you go to thingiverse and search for obvious tags like ‘disability’ ‘accessible’ ‘handicapped’ etc. you’ll find quite a few things there already!

        I should probably make this a blog post, shouldn’t I? I can’t think of a relevance to Apple though so it doesn’t really fit on ATMac!!

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