IIT Guwahati unveils innovative 3D printed ballot units to educate voters

The Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) and Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation Cell (SVEEP) of Kamrup Election have developed 3D printed dummy ballot units made of recyclable materials to educate voters ahead of the Lok Sabha (National) 2024 elections.

Sized similarly to mobile phones, these units aim to simplify handling and usage. At the unveiling ceremony, Kamrup district commissioner Keerthi Jalli and Parameswar Puri, a professor at IIT Guwahati, introduced these units. Ajeet Kumar, an assistant professor at the Department of Design, explained that the ballot units were 3D printed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, utilizing polylactic acid (PLA) material, a bio-friendly and sustainable material derived from corn syrup, was employed.

3D printed dummy ballot developed by IIT Guwahati team led by Ajeet Kumar and team. Photo via IIT Guwahati.
3D printed dummy ballot developed by IIT Guwahati team led by Ajeet Kumar and team. Photo via IIT Guwahati.

Fostering voter engagement and nationwide AM awareness

Kumar explained that the concept was developed within a span of 24 hours, with each unit taking three to four hours to print alongside his students, Jayesh Vishwakarma, Daksh Sharma, and Sarit Raj. Inclusive of candidate names and party symbols, these units emit a beep sound and light up when pressed, closely resembling the original voting process, he added.

Taking inspiration from Jalli’s idea, Kumar, and his team swiftly executed the project within a timeframe of 48 hours. Beyond electoral education, the broader vision driving this initiative encompasses the promotion and popularization of 3D printing technology nationwide. The Kamrup district administration emphasized its intention to position India as a significant manufacturing hub, said the team.

This initiative carried importance in the Gauhati Lok Sabha constituency, covering Kamrup district, especially since polling was scheduled for the final phase on May 7. Jalli highlighted the potential impact of these units in remote areas, where voters may have concerns about Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), aiming to improve voter confidence and participation.

Parameswar K. Iyer, the Dean of Public Relations, Branding, and Ranking at IIT-Guwahati, underscored the potential of this initiative to create enthusiasm among voters, particularly first-timers, to exercise their franchise.

3D printed dummy ballot units. Photo via IIT Guwahati.
3D printed dummy ballot units. Photo via IIT Guwahati.

IIT Guwahati’s use of 3D printing

Away from 3D printed ballot unit, IIT Guwahati has leveraged 3D printing for various projects. For instance, IIT Guwahati developed a 3D printed security post using sustainable concrete for the G20 Summit initiatives. Spearheaded by Stratify 3D under the assistant professor Dr. Biranchi Panda’s guidance, this initiative aligned with India’s ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ vision. 

As per the team, the automated technology offered the potential for high-quality, customizable homes within shorter timeframes. Constructed in collaboration with the Institute’s Infrastructure team, the environmentally friendly security post comprised 56 modules, featuring custom-designed tetrahedron shapes with overhang attributes.

Back in 2022, researchers at IIT Guwahati developed a method for using creating sustainable large-format structures using 3D printing industrial waste. By utilizing a locally sourced waste material-based concrete and a Deltasys E-Forming construction unit, the team successfully printed a unique piece of ‘urban furniture’. 

This approach reduced concrete consumption by 75% through design optimization. Although promising, the team reported that further testing is needed to assess its viability for widespread adoption in versatile construction applications, including underwater 3D printing potential.

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Featured image shows 3D printed dummy ballot developed by IIT Guwahati team led by Ajeet Kumar and team. Photo via IIT Guwahati.

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