3D printer helps blind children visualize objects
Visually impaired students in a social studies class are learning about the territorial expansion during the three kingdoms period of Korea.
Previously, they would have had to rely mostly on their imaginations; now they can picture the precise changes in territory using their tactile senses.
Local researchers have developed a printer that produces a three-dimensional replica made of plastic for use in school textbooks. These touchable pictures made specifically for the blind are the product of a relatively simple process.It takes just 30 minutes to produce a map the size of a palm.
"I noticed how students were able to picture the details better with the new 3D maps compared to the old ones, helping them comprehend the lesson better."
The previous 3D pictures were made by overlapping layers one at a time, resulting in a rough surface that came off easily. However, the 3D printer produces a much safer and durable representation.
"The printer treats the exterior with heat, which makes the surface smoother and stronger. It's means the visually impaired students will be able to use it safely for a longer period of time."
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology has signed an agreement with the Seoul National School for the Blind and the Korea Braille Library to produce school textbooks with touchable pictures for social studies and science classes by the end of the year.
3D printers, considered to be the third industrial revolution, have opened up a new window for the blind, so they can explore much more of the world than they could before.
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