Even though 3D printing is entering the space age as 3D printers head out of this world with NASA, the tech is also capable of meeting more mundane — but highly inspirational — challenges right here on earth. 3D printing continues to prove its worth in enabling solutions for people with disabilities who may struggle with the repeatable daily chores that fill our waking hours each and every day. The Reut Institute, an NPO dedicated to bringing Israel and the Jewish world physical and visionary tools for a better tomorrow, has addressed this issue with a challenge via their XNL (Cross-Lab Network) project.
The contest itself followed classical design guidelines. After specifying a target group – people with special needs – the contestants were asked to identify challenges they are likely to encounter in their daily lives, then design a product to overcome these particular problems and finally bring the designs to life via inexpensive materials and digital manufacturing – 3D printing.
The finalists included several different takes on the matter, such as Gilad Agam’s plastic sound router from the speaker to inner ear for more convenient phone usage for the hearing impaired; an ergonomic computer-mouse add-on from Eran Zrihan; and a wrist grip for walkers from Orit Nahmani Asher and Yuval Naveh. The runner up of the competition was Aya Efron, who came up with the idea for personalizable frames for glasses, which could be customized according to the user’s facial characteristics and personal preferences – intended to lower the barrier of children who are in need of visual enhancing products to actually wear their assigned glasses with pride.
The winner of the competition was Moshe Borocin with his casting kit for cutlery, which you can see in the feature image. Moshe’s idea was to design a customizable solution for people with restricted hand movements , who might have problems with using knives and forks for this reason. His design included a casting mould with replaceable end parts, so that the potential users could customize cutlery handles just for their own use and needs, both ergonomic and aesthetic-wise. Like most great design, the outcome is quite simple yet brilliant. The concept was brought to life on an Objet Connex, but could undoubtedly be concretized with a consumer-grade FDM machine as well.
As Rachel reported, the Cross-Lab Network aims to build permanent 3D printing labs across Israel, which will now serve as learning labs for the public and raise awareness of how 3D printing can give everybody tools to create objects and solutions to improve lives around them. For this purpose Stratasys has donated and equipped the XLN labs with Replicators, which will now have a raison d’être as bringing aspringing designers creations alive.