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2019

Blind Culture Artifacts

Enabling Engineering

The Need

Various textual artifacts held at the Perkins School for the Blind archives are largely inaccessible to the public and have no current means of reproduction. These books for the blind pre-date braille and feature raised letters and shapes intended to be read through touch, similarly to how braille is read today. To make these artifacts more accessible, 3D printed copies of the text were asked to be created that simulate the experience of the original documents.

The Solution

These 3D printed replicas should be tactilely legible, utilizing the iterative nature of additive manufacturing to optimize user experience. The original documents were scanned and further modified using Fusion 360 to adjust scaling, trim excess material, and reduce/optimize the tessellation on the models. The team then further extruded the 3D scanned files to created multiple prototypes. These 3D printed prototypes encapsulated a range of resolutions, scales, and text heights before an optimal combination of features was found. Further exporation was done on how to smooth the 3D prints. The exhibition of the final project was featured at Northeastern University, Harvard University, Boston Public Library, and Perkins School for the Blind.

Additional Information/Press

https://news.northeastern.edu/2019/02/14/weve-lost-something-important-in-the-age-of-screens-3d-printers-can-bring-it-back/