Graduating Class Receives "Touchable Yearbook" of 3D Printed Busts of Classmates

Date Posted: 03/02/2015

As the availability of 3D printing has grown in the developed world, so has the application of 3D-printed materials for people who are blind or have low vision. Because of the lack of accessibility of traditional printed yearbooks for people who are blind, a company called 3D TEK in South Korea devised the idea for the Touchable Yearbook. In an application to the Spikes Asia design competition for the communications industries, the firm explained that because "yearbooks for the blind had never existed," they wanted to see if it was possible to create lasting mementos for students who are blind using 3D printing technology.

As part of their project, 3D TEK researched how people who are visually impaired distinguished objects through touch: "We found out that the most proper size for the yearbook should fit their palms and the smooth texture would be far more important than colors." In the implementation phase, they scanned the faces of the eight students in the graduating class of the Seoul National School for the Blind, then 3D printed eight sets of small-scale sculptures of the members of the graduating class. Each highly detailed bust was inscribed in braille with the student's name and birth date. In a video showing the manufacture and distribution of the sculptures to the graduating class, students smiled widely as they hugged the sculptures and compared facial differences, "Your nose is so small," one student remarked; "It feels so real," said another. For more information, contact: Seoul National School for the Blind, 97, Piroondaero, Jongro-gu, Seoul(Shingyo-dong), 110-032, Korea; website: http://www.bl.sc.kr/bleng/index. [Information for this piece was taken from the December 30, 2014, The Telegraph article, "Blind Korean students receive 3D printed busts of their classmates," by Julian Ryall; the December 23, 2014, CNET article, "Blind students get incredible 3D-printed 'yearbook,'" by Anthony Domanico; and the December 16, 2014, 3D Print.com story, "Visually Impaired South Korean Students Receive 3D Printed Touchable Yearbook by 3D TEK," by Bridget Butler Millsaps.]

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