As more and more uses are found for this relatively new technology, I can really start to see the point of it.
Pictures of fancy-shaped sugar cubes in the news were fascinating, but left me thinking: “what’s the point”. However, a story about how 3D printing can help disabled people has given the whole concept new meaning.
Wheelchair user Raul Krauthausen bought himself a 3D printer as a gimmick, to make things like key chains and smart phone covers, before coming up with a much more valuable use for it.
He has used his device to create blocks that will help him ride up small steps and curbs in his wheelchair – blocks that he can carry around in the chair’s pocket.
He said: “I began experimenting with some basic shapes, and it dawned on me pretty quickly that I could print two wheel chocks that would help me ride up small steps in my power wheelchair.
“The first attempt promptly failed, as the chocks were too steep. With the help of my buddy, Benni, we optimised the shape, reduced the steepness, added a non-slip surface for the wheels, and experimented with stability.”
Raul tells his story on his own website and is now encouraging other people to invent and share their own aids using 3D technology.
Other worthwhile uses that have been reported in the media include prosthetic limbs and a wheelchair cup holder, as well as the less worthy suggestions of guns and 3D selfies.