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3D Printed Spoon Gives Visually Impaired Child New Handle on Independence

Anthony celebrated his 4th birthday last month using his Stratasys 3D printed spoon to eat a piece of birthday cake
Anthony celebrated his 4th birthday last month using his Stratasys 3D printed spoon to eat a piece of birthday cake

When 4 year old Anthony of Shelbyville, Kentucky lost his vision after an operation to remove a brain tumor, Wayne Whitworth, a family friend and former United States marine, offered a solution to help the little boy regain his independence. Whitworth turned to 3D printing to develop a customized spoon on the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus 3D Printer at UPS store 0830, located in Louisville, Kentucky.

Simple daily functions like self-feeding posed frustrating challenges for Anthony and his family. “Anthony is blind so finding a spoon that he liked was a real challenge,” said Anthony’s mother, Cierra Brettnacher.

Anthony was drawn to a particular spoon he encountered during physical therapy. The special curvatures and features help visually impaired children like Anthony adapt to feeding themselves. Reproducing a utensil with a unique shape would require a process with greater design freedom and durable material options to withstand the stress of daily use—that process was additive manufacturing.

Stratasys 3D printing was crucial to the design of Anthony's spoon, as it gave Whitworth and The UPS Store the flexibility to change their approach throughout the design process
Stratasys 3D printing was crucial to the design of Anthony’s spoon, as it gave Whitworth and The UPS Store the flexibility to change their approach throughout the design process

Whitworth came across United Problem Solvers™ campaign, a UPS initiative which helps customers find solutions to unique problems. UPS store 0830 franchisee, Debbie Adams, along with her graphic designer, Doug Seelbach, worked with Whitmore to develop a spoon that closely resembled the original.

Because they lacked a material that was FDA-approved and food safe, they shifted their design approach to develop a customized handle that would attach to disposable kitchen utensils. Adams and Seelbach developed two handles using durable ABSplus 3D printing material, branding one with a small square on top so Anthony could identify a fork from a spoon.

uPrint SE Plus 3D Printer from Stratasys
uPrint SE Plus 3D Printer from Stratasys

Whitworth and the UPS team’s kind-hearted gesture has gone a long way for Anthony and his family.

“When I gave the spoon to Anthony it made a huge difference,” said Cierra. “I was having to sit and feed two kids at the same time. So Anthony having a spoon where he could feed himself not only gave him independence and confidence but it also helped me so I don’t have to sit and feed him myself.”

Anthony’s 3D printed spoon device has made an enormous difference in the family’s daily routine. According to Cierra, the spoon has effectively introduced Anthony to many different types of food, a common headache for most parents of young eaters. “Since he’s able to feed himself these foods, he’s much more open to them,” added Cierra. “This spoon has truly impacted our lives in a variety of ways.”

This post is also available in: Japanese Portuguese (Brazil)

Carrie Wyman

Carrie Wyman

Carrie is a technology and 3D printing enthusiast, with a passion for beautiful design.

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