Jan 31, 2015 | By Kira

We’ve seen 3D printing used for truly wonderful purposes to improve the lives of those in need, from amputees to surgical candidates to malaria patients in Africa. These feats are life changing and show the sheer power of combining good intentions with advanced technology, however, sometimes it’s the little things in life that can really make a difference, such as being able to play video games with your friends.

Caleb Kraft, one of the community editors at MAKE, is on a mission help gamers who are disabled regain control of their, well, controllers, by 3D printing modular, customizable bits that fit onto Xboxes and other game systems.

His previous work includes a 3D printed WiiMote mod that allowed those with disabilities to reach the trigger button with ease, but after receiving several requests to modify the thumbstick on game controllers, he set out to create a useful system that would help a wide variety of people with special physical needs.

The result is a set of modular pieces, including one base piece that fits snuggly onto the Xbox’s thumbstick to provide extra height, additional spacers and various end pieces, such as lassos and curved extenders that can be customized depending on the users needs.

“As I began this project, I had a couple main goals in mind; modularity and removability,” Kraft told us via email. “It had to be modular. I feel like this is the best method of customization [and] I wanted it to remain removable. That way it would be placed on whatever controller is handy at the moment and easily replaced as your needs changed.”

Kraft worked with a Lulzbot Taz 4 3D printer and glow PLA from makergeeks. He printed in .22mm layer height, with support structure only on the loops and the curved extender piece. “I’m really proud of this one,” said Kraft, “just print arrange, then glue together!”

The enthusiastic maker describes himself as getting “ridiculously excited seeting people make things” and wanting to “revel in the creativity of the masses.” We’d say it’s pretty clear just by looking at the passion and creativity he has infused into a project that would be overlooked by many, yet can make such a difference in a person’s life.

In the near future, he hopes to be able to make similar base pieces for multiple gaming systems, since the thumbsticks are all shaped differently, as well as a variety of end pieces.

The files to print your own Xbox thumbstick mods are available on Thingiverse, however if you cannot print them yourself, you can contact Kraft directly to have them printed and delivered for you, thanks to donations from Lulzbot (shipping may be extra). “Lulzbot has been very supportive of these projects since I started doing them,” said Kraft. It goes to show that it really doesn’t matter whether you are a world-renowned heart surgeon, or just totally addicted to Xbox: when you’re part of the maker community, no project is too big or too small to help someone out.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

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