While additive manufacturing (AM) has been producing items in volume, the average Joe/Jane are not impacted by it in their day to day life. Or so they think. For some people, AM is already making a difference and impacting their daily life. Here are 3 examples that are different than the first things that pop to mind (probably aligners, and medical implants) and make a real difference to some people.
Read Me, Seymour!
We probably all know dyslexic children who struggle with reading at school, in fact over 10% of the population is said to be dyslexic. It can be very frustrating, especially for younger children – it’s hard to see that it’s so much easier for others to read while for them it is so hard. Thanks to AM, a French startup called Abeye was able to create Lexilens: glasses that can help dyslexic children with reading. The frame is made of 9 3D printed parts (produced on HP MJF 3D printers), a lens, a filter, and a small electronic board and battery housed in the frame. When the electronics are turned on they activate the tinted lenses and filter that together filter out the mirror images causing the reading difficulties. The glasses are turned on with the push of a button, the battery lasts 25 hours, and it’s rechargeable through a USB interface. Worthy of James Bond’s Q almost. This could make dyslexic children’s lives so much easier – really heart warming.
Rinse and Repeat
Another problem afflicting many people’s day to day lives, this time at their job, is repetitive strain injuries (RSI) or Repetitive Motion Disorders. Some jobs, such as assembly work, are prone to these types of injuries. In particular there may be ergonomic and strain advantages to providing assembly workers with 3D printed aids that prevent such injuries. AM together with software packages, like Trinckle, can offer an easy solution. Trinckle helped Ford, for example, facilitate creation of 3D printed aids by assembly line workers with no 3D knowledge helping them avoid RSI and other hazards. For the worker in question this can make a huge difference in the daily experience at work.
Keep on Keeping on
The last one is the 3D printed item that has the most impact on my personal day to day. Here’s the background: I love my car! It is 8 years old and still accelerated better than most cars on the road and gives me a great driving experience. In return I take very good care of it and hope to keep it for many more years. The one thing that was problematic with this car was that I didn’t spring for the in dash navigation system (at the time it was super expensive) and the car cannot connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and even if it did it has a super simple display that would not be able to show navigation instructions. In this day and age, where I use Waze on a daily basis, it quickly turned into a problem. I tried various mobile holders (but without suction cups which restrict your view and are illegal in some states) but since I like to take my turns quite aggressively my mobile would go flying out of them (or flying with them) and then imagine having to fish it out from wherever it lands… This is where AM helped me out – a year or so after I bought the car I heard of Bhold Design who created Bsteady – a great design that prevents the mobile from flying off the holder and anchors the holder on your air conditioning vent. At the time the Bsteady was new and 3D printed and I treated myself to a red one (today they offer mass produced rubber holders, not sure that would hold up for so many years though). I’ve used this contraption pretty much every day for the past 6-7 years and it has made a real difference to me, especially since I can keep my beloved car without compromising on navigation, hopefully for years to come. This may seem small, but I notice and enjoy this convenience on a daily basis and it was made possible by 3D printing.
For more insights and information follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates. Photos: top 2 Lexilens, Ford tooling 3D printed on Ultimaker, and last photo is mine (Lee-Bath Nelson, LEO Lane).