Jun 11, 2015 | By Alec

While regular people can already let their imaginations run wild through the power of 3D printing technology, surely the people who can most strongly benefit it must be the blind and the visually impaired. As group of people who can only read books with their hands, it’s no wonder that several people have already started 3D printing educational objects for blind children so they can learn everything their classmates can. Remember this concerned father and his blind daughter?

However, there are millions of blind people in the world, so an E-NABLE like initiative would be necessary to help them all. Fortunately, Indian 3D printing platform think3D is already making significant steps in the right direction, launching an initiative to digitize and 3D print all diagrams and educational images from school textbooks to help educate visually impaired students. This project is done in collaboration with the Devnar Foundation For The Blind, a school attended by more than 500 visually impaired or blind students.

Think 3D, for the non-Indian readers, is a major 3D printing platform based in Hyderabad, India. It has been founded in 2014 by Raja Sekhar Upputuri and Prudhvi Reddy While offering a lot of 3D printing services, they are also hard at work spreading awareness about the potential of 3D printing technology in their native country. This project is obviously closely aligned to their principles of looking beyond profits and making a positive impact in society.

Looking for a social project to tackle, the two founders quickly developed the idea of helping visually impaired children, and got in touch with Dr. Saibaba Goud, the leading opthamologist and co-founder of Devnar Foundation for the Blind. ‘We explained him about 3D printing technology and how it can be used to create 3D visual aids. He became very interested in this whole project. He assigned a faculty member as our point of contact for this project and supported us all through,’ says Prudhvi.

A 3D printed depiction of the law of the convergence of light.

Through their discussion and experiences with the children themselves, it became obvious that many struggled to understand things like biology without access to charts and helpful illustrations. ‘For normal children, we can easily explain by drawing a picture on the board. They can see and visualize it. But blind children can visualize only by touch. We do have few visual aids in the laboratory. Those are bulky, non-portable and are prone to damage easily. Moreover, creation of such visual aids is an expensive proposition. So, we are commissioning such models for very important concepts like Blood Circulation System. If we can get highly portable and durable models at low cost, that will be a huge benefit for these students,’ Prof. R. Parameshwaran explained.

Teachers looking at 3D printed educational tools.

Becoming convinced that 3D printed parts can definitely help teachers to explain basic concepts to their visually impaired students, the think3D team spent about 45 days creating digital and 3D printed versions of various concepts from the physics textbooks, such as Light Rays. But all are small, durable and easy to handle. These were a huge success at the Devnar Foundation for the Blind, with students and teachers alike. One student said it was very helpful to begin to understand basic concepts. ‘This is a light ray hitting the lens and reflecting back. I can visualize which ray is coming from right, which one from left, which one is parallel and which one is perpendicular. This model helped me visualize it very well,’ he said.

You can see the students experiencing the 3D printed parts for the first time here.

Because of this overwhelming response, think3D has since decided to tackle the biology textbooks as well. ‘I was really surprised to see that one guy could touch the human eye anatomy and could instantly recognize the cornea,’ says Prudhvi. Overal, teachers have said that education has become far easier for both students and the teachers, and think3D is therefore planning to continue this excellent approach to special education. When will other 3D printing platforms begin to do the same for the blind children of the world?

A 3D printed depiction of the human eye.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive