There are two laboratories focusing on experimental desktop 3D printing at Milan Politecnico University: one is the PhyCo Lab, led by Prof. Maximiliano Romero, which uses it for prototyping innovative robotic systems, and the other is +Lab, which focuses on materials under the leadership of Prof. Marinella Levi. Apart from the core interests, both focus on using 3D printing to help people with disabilities and that is exactly what +Lab did with the +TUO (which in English means “more yours”) project.
Born from the doctorate thesis of researcher Francesca Ostuzzi, +TUO is a Co-design and Co-production process that uses 3D printing to best put to use the contribution arriving from the final users of the products created. These include a range of small tools intended to simplify daily activities for anyone afflicted from rheumatic pathologies.
The research is being conducted in collaboration with +Lab’s Silvia Ostuzzi and ALOMAR (the regional association for rheumatic illnesses), along with occupational therapists and psychologists, and has resulted in six specific accessories, starting with a cool looking boomerang – an evolution of a project presented last year – designed to help people open plastic bottle caps and which could probably come in handy to those who don’t suffer from rheumatic pain as well.
New products also include a “Zip Cursor”, which makes it easier to grab it and use it, and a key holder, which simplifies the wrist rotation necessary to turn the keys inside a lock. Another accessory that could be useful to a wide group of people is a tailor made mouse support which can be regulated to be more effective.
Along with the cap opener, the accessories that will likely be used most are the ones created for kitchen and food related activities. These include a spoon holder that uses 3D printing to be developed according to the persons’ exact requirements in terms of both aesthetic and geometry. Others include a set of kitchen gloves augmented with localized 3D printing that improves grip, and a cutting board setup what simplifies the process of holding the knife and the food firmly.
In the past making objects tailored for a single person was impossible, 3D printing has made is possible and easier than ever. Making products for those who have specific needs often makes us realize that we all could benefit from those same improvements. Quoting Not Impossible’s Neil Ebeling: “help one, help many”.