The growing availability of 3D printers in schools, libraries and community Makerspaces enables Makers to create digital designs that can be readily shared online. We typically use Tinkercad or SketchUp for our 3D modeling software.
Some key considerations for students to keep in mind when using 3D printing to create tactile elements:
- What are the most essential elements to provide in a tactile form (and how many of each are required)?
- What unique features (e.g., shape, texture, etc.) should be included to ensure that the tactile element that can be understood by touch?
- How big does an element need to be in order to be understood by touch (keeping in mind printing time limitations, page size limitations, appropriate scale relative to other elements in the project, etc.)?
Tips for Getting Started
For Teachers of the Visually Impaired or anyone who wants to begin using 3D printing to create tactile and accessible materials, these resources from Neal McKenzie offer advice for getting started, finding funding, and tapping into your local 3D printing resources if you don't have your own 3D printer.
- Getting Started with 3D Printing (A New Hope) - Pathways to Technology blog post
- Handout with resources for 3D Printing for Students with Visual Impairments (pdf)
3D Modeling and Printing Resources
- Introduction to Tinkercad (pdf) - provides tips and tricks and links to videos for creating 3D objects
- See3D - non-profit organization that 3D prints models for people who are blind
- TouchMapper - design and print 3D printed maps to help navigate and explore an area