How did you first get involved with TOM: Melbourne? I participated as a Maker in the 2019 TOM: Melbourne Makeathon. I worked as part of an incredible team to help Joanne, an individual with poor motor control, to easily and independently brush her teeth. What’s your favourite memory from the Makeathon? My favourite memories involve engaging with members of the community who live with disability. Having the opportunity to listen to and learn about their experiences, aspirations and views was the most memorable and meaningful part. What have you been up to during lockdown? Are you working on any interesting projects? Due to COVID-19, I have been working on the design of PPE in collaboration with a Melbourne-based ICU specialist. As well as this, I have been designing a 3D printed white cane for individuals that are visually impaired or blind. What interested you about this project? Is there a gap in the market for this type of product? I think there is an opportunity to use the flexibility inherent in 3D printing to develop patient-specific assistive devices in response to particular needs. Products in our current market are being catered to a mass audience, but with assistive
technology it is never a one size fits all situation. A lot of these products are not being customised and therefore are not reaching the individuals who need it most. 3D printed products have the ability to easily be customised with respect to the size, shape and material used to match the end-user specifications. One definitive solution is never applicable when addressing the needs of multiple people with disability. 3D printing is becoming accessible by communities globally, and that is encouraging because it suggests that people with disability will be able to actively participate in designing their own assistive devices.
Do you need any help from the TOM community?
Yes, definitely. Below are images of my first prototype. I have been researching different 3D printing techniques to create a lightweight cane with interchangeable tips for different functions that can also be printed rapidly. I would like exposure to customisation ideas for the canes so that they can fulfil different purposes. If anyone has any ideas or tips please reach out to me! I would love to chat to any Makers that have experience with this type of making as well as any Need-Knowers who have experience using this type of product and understand the need from the perspective of the end-user.