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June 5, 2014 AT 2:00 am

Blindsign – Empowering blind and visually impaired people with 3D printing and design #3DThursday #3DPrinting #3DScanning

Check out this moving guest post from Paul Dunne over at Shapeways this week. Blindsign – Empowering blind and visually impaired people with 3D printing and design, @ Shapeways Blog:

Blindesign embraces change in how we develop and acquire 3D printed products. It also enables a social benefit to blind and visually impaired people by carrying out creative workshops with the blind to create forms and drawings of how they see the world. These creations are then scanned and developed into 3D printed products and jewelry that are available to buy in a wide range of materials on Shapeways. The finished designs are the tangible aspects of the empowering experience from the workshops.

Through Blindesign I am committed to changing perspectives of what it means to have vision. Many thought the idea of collaborating with someone who is visually impaired or blind in the creation of designs was too crazy and couldn’t be done….

…First I invited them to draw anything they wanted with markers on colored paper. They drew a wide variety of things – a tree, a ship, a car, a twirl, a horse. Second task was to create products out of clay. So they made scale models of their interpretation of a chair, a table, a bowl, a door and a coin. Also, one participant, Eamonn, made his initials. Third task was to make sculptural pieces by squeezing pieces of clay in their hand, creating simple elegant forms.

After the workshop I scanned the sketches with a normal 2d scanner and brought into Solidworks as an image and traced to create 3d designs. For the clay pieces, there are 3d scanners available that would make the scanning process easier, but I’m a poor design student so I used my digital camera and took about 50 images per piece. I brought the photos into Photoshop, removed the background, and added a fill color that is of high contrast to the model (I used green). This helped the 3D design software, such as Autodesk 123D Catch, interpret the piece in three dimensions. I then prepared the models for 3D printing with Shapeways.

A few weeks after the workshop I went back to the group to show them some of the models that were printed from their creations and test my Braille Game prototype with them. It was fascinating to see how they interacted differently with the products than sighted people. Investigating everything through touch, all the different textures and materials interrupt them and make them think of something differently….

Read more about Blindsign and this workshop experience here.

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