Advances in technology have allowed for so many interesting new developments in fields like education. 3D printing has been applied to a diverse set of issues plaguing society, from printing new organs to helping engineers design previously impossible shapes. A new application of this technology is to 3D print books for blind children. 3D printing allows for the addition of raised braille and objects that physically come off the page so that children who are still in a stage of learning can gain even more knowledge despite their inability to see. This instructable will detail how to create a 3D printed book that utilizes braille and images to make picture books accessible to children who cannot see.
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Step 1: Formulate a Plan
1. You’re going to need to think of what you want to do before you start building your picture book.
2. Think of either making your own book or making a 3D version of a famous book. Make sure you question how difficult it would be to make the images out of simple shapes.
3. Once you have made your decision begin to plan out how you would conceptually do it so you’re prepared for when you begin.
Step 2: Go to TinkerCad
1. Go to TinkerCad to begin making your book.
2. Each page is going to end up being a file on TinkerCad, so make sure that you plan ahead to individually plan each file.
3. Make sure that TinkerCad works on your computer. This website is not the only location that you can create your 3D book so if you have any issues look online for other 3D model creators so you can continue with your project.
4. Make an account on TinkerCad (or whatever website you choose) and then choose to begin a project.
Step 3: Start Designing Your Pages
- Once you start a project on TinkerCad, you will be given a page with a flat rectangular grid which will be your workspace.
- The images on the right (which are labeled shapes and other options) are going to be your basic objects which will be used together to form the larger objects of your story. For example, a flower can be made of a circle and different ovals to form the head.
- To make the physical page of the book, take a rectangular prism and stretch it out over the grid and flatten it to make it more like a book page.
- Important note: 3D printing's cost is dependent on the amount of filament used. The larger your rectangular prism is here, the larger your page will be, and the higher the cost will be, so make sure that you note the size or your budget for the project. Moreover, make sure that while your book page is thin, that it is thick enough for the printer to handle. The printer I used for my book required a 2 mm minimum thickness so do not make the prism as thin as possible.
Step 4: Start Designing Your Story
- Once you have the page ready, start to make objects on the page itself.
- These objects are dependent on the story you want to tell and need to be constructed through the use of smaller objects so you're going to have to get creative. If you're having a hard time making an object, consider changing your story to fit an object you can make or try your best creating the object you do want and make it obvious in the story what the object actually is.
- Make sure that the objects on the page are not just drawn on, but physically come off the page so that anyone who could not see would be able to comprehend the story only through touch.
Step 5: Adding Braille
- Instead of writing the words on the bottom of the page to be seen, include braille at the bottom so that the story can be understood only through touch.
- Go to https://www.brailletranslator.org/ and type in what you want your page to say and then download the image of the braille.
- Then go to https://www.selva3d.com/ and make an account. This website will allow you to convert your braille image into a 3D file. Once you have created the 3D file, download it as an STL.
- On TinkerCad, click the button that says "Import" and choose the file of braille that corresponds to that page. Once you import it, you can edit the braille like any other object on TinkerCad.
Step 6: With Each Page Make a New File
- When you finish each page that you are working on, open a new file and start a new page of your story. You are only limited by what you are willing to create (and by the cost- more pages means more money).
- Keep repeating the process of imagining your page, creating the physical page, creating the objects, creating the braille for the page, and starting a new one until you have run out of pages or hit your cost limit.
Step 7: Print Your Book
- Find a location where you can print your book (libraries generally have one that you can submit to, especially university libraries). You can either find a way to rent a 3D printer and print the book yourself, or you can submit it to a library that has a 3D printer and you'll pay them to print it for you.
- Make sure you allot time for trial and error. There might be issues with a file, the size of the object, the cost of the project, or just with processing the files that you submit. Don't submit the files and expect it to come out perfectly the first time.
- Once you submit it you should just pay and then wait for the pages to be printed. You'll be told when they are ready to be picked up.
- Enjoy your 3D printed book!!!!
Step 8: Success of My Project
- I wanted to talk about some issues that I had with my project that you should watch out for:
- I had several issues with submitting the files for my book, so make sure that you slate time to account for unforeseen errors.
- The price forced me to resubmit my files at a smaller size so before you submit the project, calculate what you're willing to spend on the book.
- Conversely, the smaller you make your book the harder it will be for the printer to get the details that you put on the book (the braille). When mine printed, some of the braille was covered by other filament that had wound up there. Make sure that you make the braille and other details big enough so that anyone reading the book can see/ feel them.