It is one thing to have an idea in your head, but it is a completely different experience to hold it in your hands. With its advanced technology and ease of use, it is no secret why businesses are implementing 3D printing into their processes. 3D printing has recently exploded as a disruptive technology, especially in the manufacturing industry. By creating a computer-aided-design (CAD) model and sending it to the 3D printer, a part is built layer-by-layer from the bottom up.
Beyond Vision, a provider of manufacturing and business services, is committed to providing employment to the visually impaired. While 3D printing has proven to be successful in the manufacturing aspect of the business, Beyond Vision has also found a unique way to utilize their 3D printer.
Watch their real reactions:
Beyond Vision is giving their blind employees the opportunity to "see" through 3D printing. “With 3D printing, you are essentially representing a 3D image in a physical form, and we thought this is a way that we can actually allow blind people to see things that they can’t normally see,” explains Jim Kerlin, president and CEO of Beyond Vision.
GSC (Graphics Systems Corp.), a provider of 3D engineering technology, worked with Beyond Vision to evaluate various 3D printers and technologies based on their manufacturing needs. “Their initial objective was to make fixtures and jigs to improve their product assembly process for the blind employees. Once they received the 3D printer, they started finding even more unique ways to utilize the printer to benefit their employees,” said Mike Krause, 3D printing consultant at GSC.
People who are visually impaired use their sense of touch to "see". By printing a snowflake, butterfly, and sailboat, visually impaired employees at Beyond Vision were able to visualize objects that were previously only imaginable. “A person who is blind has never had an opportunity, especially if they have been blind since birth, to know what a snowflake looks like and that every snowflake is different,” explains Kerlin. By printing several snowflakes in different shapes and sizes, employees were able understand the difference in the unique patterns.
With something as delicate as a butterfly, a blind individual must rely on descriptions and may not fully have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty in the detail. By 3D printing a butterfly with detailed wings that articulate, a person who is blind can understand the movement as well as the pattern on the wings.
Several employees had previously been sailing, but found it difficult to fully imagine what the boat looked like from back to front. The 3D printed model enabled them to understand the layout of the sails as well as where they would sit.
When employees were asked what other objects they would like to see printed, some ideas included a basketball court, baseball diamond, and a neighborhood map of one’s home.
“We thought this was a really unique way for us to use 3D printing and allow a person who is blind to see things that they can’t normally see,” says Kerlin. Beyond Vision is continuing to use 3D printing in the manufacturing aspect of the business as well as for ideas on how to enrich the lives of their blind employees.
See original story at gxsc.com