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Hereward College/Warwick University
Ollie Baskaran uses his invention
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The 3D model of the straw holder
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The 3D printed straw holder keeps the straw in place making it easier to drink from
Last week we brought you the story of Raul Krauthausen, the wheelchair user who designed and 3D printed his own ramps. His design was inspired after seeing a wheelchair cup holder on thingiverse.
Assistive design is one of the greatest applications of 3D printing, the technology is enabling people (and animals) with disabilities across the world to make lives more comfortable.
For somebody like Ollie Baskaran, a student with Muscular Dystrophy the realisation that he can create anything he needs has been a revelation.
Take using a straw in a bottle for instance; most of us get marginally irritated when using a straw and it slips down into the bottle but for Ollie this straw design flaw could prove incredibly frustrating, he said: “I have limited strength and need to use a straw, but when you lift and tip the bottle at an angle, the straw moves around, making drinking difficult.”
So what does Ollie do? With the help of his lecturer at Hereward College and The University of Warwick Computer Science Department and Warwick Manufacturing Group he designs and 3D prints the solution.
“I wanted to design something that would hold the straw in place and this was my brainwave. To be honest, I’m quite surprised nobody has come up with the idea before.
"The straw-holder just makes it ten times easier to enjoy a drink.
“We took less than an hour to get all the measurements we needed and to create the design, which then took about 20 minutes to print.
“Without 3D printing, I would never have been able to get the idea professionally designed and manufactured as it would have cost too much. This technology opens up so many possibilities to make life easier for people with disabilities.”
Other Hereward students have created an adapted version of the straw-holder which fits into a wine glass and a personalised fork which makes eating easier for a student with limited muscle function in his hand.
The 3D printing project, entitled Engaging Young People with Assistive Technologies, has been running since September and has received funding from the University of Warwick.
It is part of a wider Warwick drive to engage with groups of learners who are currently under-represented in science and technology at degree level.
The project is delivered by two university departments – WMG, which has extensive expertise in additive layer manufacturing, and the Department of Computer Sciences, which has strength in adaptive systems (designing software and systems around an individual’s particular needs) , in conjunction with the Access Research & Development Department at Hereward College. A 3D printer has been donated to Hereward College by 3D Systems.
University of Warwick Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) Professor Christina Hughes said:
"Many people with disabilities have a variety of unmet needs where an off-the-shelf solution is not good enough
“At Warwick we have deep technical knowledge in computer sciences and product manufacturing but it’s the students themselves who have knowledge of disability and the challenges they and their friends face every day.
“By bringing together these two different types of expertise, we are seeing fantastic results as the students are able to solve some of these problems through this technology.
“This group of learners are currently under-represented in science and technology subjects at degree level, so we also hope that by inspiring them to create their own products, they might consider studying one of the STEM subjects at university.”
3D printing is proving to be a truly disruptive technology in the field of assistive design and long may that continue.