3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. It is achieved using a process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. While 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, it has not been until recently that 3D printers have became widely available commercially.
3D printing has applications in a wide range of industry sectors and now interest can be seen within assistive technology(AT). For example, with designs such as the following; a device used to assist removing a jar lid and an alternative grip to hold the iPad.
An easy way to introduce yourself into this whole area would be to consider a printing service. There are now many printing services around. Printing cost are generally based on the amount of material used and it starts at about €10.
One such services is Hacketts here in Dublin that can provide full-colour process, with high-resolution models.
To get started have a look at Thingiverse which is design community for making and sharing 3D printable things.
To build your own models you’ll need some software. There are lots of free, and open source design tools to choose from such as 3dtin.com, Tinkercad.com, Sketchup, OpenSCAD or Blender. Also view some of the many 3D printing tutorials online.
An important point for clinicians to keep in mind is that prescribing a model for a user will make you the manufacturer so Medical Device Directive for customised devices needs to be followed.
Enable Ireland AT Training Service