First - identify a common problem for people with special needs. Next - design a product to help solve the problem. Finally - produce it with inexpensive materials and digital manufacturing technologies.
Those were the basic guidelines for participants in the “Creating Tomorrow’s Products” contest, initiated by Israel’s Reut Institute XLN (Cross-Lab Network) project.
The Reut Institute is a non-profit association, concerned with helping to shape the future of Israeli society and to shape the quality of life. To help achieve this goal, Reut established the XLN project which is setting up 3D printing labs across Israel to educate the public about 3D printing and the self-manufacturing revolution.
There were plenty of great creative entries - all unique. The first place winner was a casting kit by engineer Moshe Borocin for custom-designing tableware for people with restricted hand mobility. The product, 3D printed on an Objet Connex multi-material 3D Printer by Stratasys, includes a casting mold with replaceable end units which enable the creation of affordable dishes with customizable handles as well as ergonomic and aesthetic features specifically for people with hand movement restrictions.
The second place winner was Aya Efron, a teenager who developed eyeglass frames that can be customized for each individual face and personalized according to preference. These cool eyeglass frames are likely to encourage a child to wear his or her glasses proudly.
Other finalists included industrial design student Gilad Agam who designed a plastic earpiece that routes sound from a phone’s speaker directly to the inner ear, occupational therapists Orit Nahmani Asher and Yuval Naveh who developed a wrist grip for walkers, and industrial design student Eran Zrihan who developed an ergonomic computer-mouse add-on.
The idea behind the contest was not only to improve the quality of life of people with special needs and help them live more independently, but also to familiarize the public with 3D printing technology and how it’s revolutionizing the design-manufacturing process.
Stratasys has donated a MakerBot 3D Printer to Reut’s 3D printing labs to support and promote innovation in the 3D printing field, and sponsored the Design Contest award ceremony.