The Blind Can See With 3D Printing

By on September 28th, 2014 in Ideas


3D printing cannot restore eyesight, but it can provide tactile aids for those without sight. 

We spoke with Rees Calder at the iMakr store in London recently, who related an incident that happened as a result of their public 3D scanning project. 

The project involves having the public send in several images of a subject, which iMakr converts into printable 3D models using software. The intent is to capture notable statues and buildings from around the world, and it seems to be working. 

Some of these 3D models have been printed and put on display at iMakr’s London store. One of the models happened to be of The Shard, Europe’s tallest building and a rather spiky-looking tower on the south side of the Thames. 

During one of the many “get introduced to 3D printing” events held at iMakr, a sight-impaired person accompanied an attendee. They happened to pick up the Shard print and asked what it was. When told it was the Shard, they said:

Oh! That’s what it looks like! 

A sight-impaired person would no doubt have heard much discussion of the mysterious Shard building, yet have little idea of its actual shape. Then a chance encounter with 3D printing changed everything. 

By touch, one can see.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!