Design of the Week: “At Hand”

By on January 1st, 2018 in Design

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 The cathederal at Modena
The cathederal at Modena

This week’s selection is the “At Hand” 3D printed tactile display in Modena, Italy. 

Modena is an ancient city in the middle of Italy where you may encounter historic buildings of great design. An area within Modena has been designated as a World Heritage site, which contains a magnificent 12th century cathedral and other buildings. 

As beautiful as these structures and their contents may be, it is extremely challenging for visually challenged individuals to appreciate them. 

To overcome this barrier, arrangements were made to prepare a series of 3D printed models of the site’s structures. These were then deployed as “tactile” 3D models for the visually impaired to explore with their hands. Non-impaired visitors are equally able to make use of the models. 

Prints were appropriately equipped with braille inscriptions to ensure the explorers were able to understand exactly what they were touching. 

 A 3D printed tactile  model of a sculpture
A 3D printed tactile  model of a sculpture

From the announcement (via Google Translate):

The course consists of four 1: 1 scale reproductions made by 3DArcheolab: two sculptures of the Duomo and two of Ghirlandina, each with a sample of the same stone with which they were sculpted. Next to it is a 1: 200 scale model of the whole Site, with the profiles of the buildings facing the square, which can be inspected inside and can be divided into several parts, made of resin with 3D printing by Justprint3D, technical sponsor of the project .

The project has also produced two educational kits for use by students to further explore the site. 

The tactile approach has been used previously in this way using 3D printing, but I believe it should be done far more than it is today, as there are countless visually impaired persons that would surely appreciate the ability to explore notable structures and objects. 

While there is a vast amount of braille resources, I wonder if the same will be said of tactile-focused 3D printable objects in the future? Can visually impaired people easily access tactile 3D models? 

Generally that is not the case today, but it could be closer to reality if more projects like this one were to take place. 

Via Municipality of Modena (Italian)

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!