PrintLab

Assistive Device Academy

This video gives an overview of assistive technology, its purpose in society and how 3D printing can help.

This video by Makers Making Change covers Ashley's story and how a product developed at a Makeathon enabled her to carry drinks whilst using her crutches.

Timothy had an anoxic brain injury that meant he did not have fine motor control of his fingers. In this Makeathon hosted by Makers Making Change, young people made him a device that allowed him to play his Wii console.

Participate in the below challenge or use it as inspiration to devise your own

Here are some example steps to take to design assistive devices for people with disabilities.

The profile section of this assistive bottle opener is placed over standard-sized drinks bottle caps (coke, fanta etc). The large handles, when squeezed, use a leverage system to make it easier to grip and unscrew the bottle cap.

This key turner allows users to use a M4x12 nut and bolt to fasten a key into position. Once fastened, the large handle utilises leverage to make the key turning process much easier.

This can opener works on a leverage system, making is possible to open drinks cans with very little force. The device is hooked under the ring-pull and the lever is pulled to open the can.

This assistive bag carrier consists of a large ergonomic gripping handle, together with 2 hooks that allow users to hang multiple bags from. The device makes the task of carrying bags more comfortable and it evenly distributes weight to the handle.

The profile section of this assistive bottle opener is placed over standard-sized drinks bottle caps (coke, fanta etc). The large handles, when squeezed, use a leverage system to make it easier to grip and unscrew the bottle cap.

This key turner allows users to use a M4x12 nut and bolt to fasten a key into position. Once fastened, the large handle utilises leverage to make the key turning process much easier.

This can opener works on a leverage system, making is possible to open drinks cans with very little force. The device is hooked under the ring-pull and the lever is pulled to open the can.

This assistive bag carrier consists of a large ergonomic gripping handle, together with 2 hooks that allow users to hang multiple bags from. The device makes the task of carrying bags more comfortable and it evenly distributes weight to the handle.

The Challenge

Design and 3D print an assistive device for a person or people in your local community.

 


 

Criteria & Constraints

  • The device must help someone overcome a challenge in their day-to-day lives
  • The device must take the needs and wants of a specific user into consideration and therefore be bespoke to their needs
  • The device must include 3D printed components

 

3d printed assistive devices

STEP 1: Define the User

Before you begin creating your devices, you may wish to participate in some of the design tutorials within this resource. Then write down as many different types of disabilities as you can that might benefit from an assistive device. Once your list is complete, think about people you know who have one of these disabilities and write these down. Narrow the selection down to a single person to design an assistive device for.

STEP 2: Identify Challenges

Spend some time researching the disability of your user. Then identify and write down as many challenges as possible that your user might experience in day-to-day life. To help you to identify these challenges, you should contact your user and ask them questions about their disability.

STEP 3: Idea Generation

Brainstorm ideas for assistive devices that will help your user overcome the challenges listed in step 2. Each idea should be written next to the challenge it relates to. Generate multiple ideas for each challenge. Once completed, decide which idea you’d like to take forward and create a list of design criteria for the device (e.g. must be comfortable to grip). Try and involve your user in the idea selection and design criteria if possible.

STEP 4: Concept Design

You should now develop a range of annotated sketches to represent your chosen idea. Generate a minimum of 4 different design options. Remember to always consider the needs of your user when designing and contact them if necessary. Select 1 or 2 concepts to take forward to design in CAD and 3D print.

assistive bag carrier tinkercad tutorial

STEP 5: CAD & 3D Print

Using CAD software, develop the concepts into 3D computer models, paying particular attention to product dimensions and 3D printability. When the CAD models are complete, export them as STL files, before slicing and 3D printing them.

STEP 6: Analyse & Iterate

Analyse your 3D printed models and critically review them. Send the devices to your user (if possible) and request feedback from them. Combine the feedback with your own critical analysis and suggest improvements to the design. If time allows, develop new iterations of the assistive device.