[AI] Study Compares 3D Printed Braille to Traditional Methods

soloman s teachsolo at gmail.com
Tue Jul 31 09:07:02 EDT 2018

Very interesting! Read on.
With warm regards
Solomon S
teachsolo at gmail.com

Study Compares 3D Printed Braille to Traditional Methods

by Clare Scott | Jul 26, 2018 | 3D Printing, Science & Technology |

3D printing lends itself well to aiding the visually impaired. It has been
used numerous times to create tactile maps, learning tools, tactile art, and
other aids. The technology makes the printing of Braille on objects easy, as
well. A new study takes a closer look at the use of 3D printing to produce
embossed dot graphics for the purpose of helping the visually impaired. The
goal of the study was to improve upon traditional methods of creating
Braille, like embossing machines. Entitled "A Proposed Method for Producing
Embossed Dots Graphics with a 3D Printer," the study can be accessed here
[https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-94274-2_20]. The author
of the study, Kazunori Minatani, is visually impaired himself.

"The author designed this study to specifically take up the following
challenge: develop a system that would convert data created using embossed
dots graphics drawing software for a braille embosser into data that could
be used with 3D CAD software," the study explains. "The conversion would
allow for completely customization of the size and shape of every dot,
freeing us from the limitations in dot type associated with the braille
embosser. Results are confirmed via physical measurements and tactile
observation assessments."

The biggest advantage, according to the study, that 3D printers have over
traditional Braille embossers is that they can freely customize the
arrangement and shapes of the dots. Converting embossed dots graphics
drawing software to CAD data allowed for full customization of the sizes and
shapes of the dots; the software Minatani designed was named Ed12scad. Edel
is a piece of drawing software used for designing embossed dots graphics for
the ESA 721 embosser, which can punch out three different dot sizes.

Three dots embossed by ESA721 (up-left), generated by 3D printer (down-left)
and the evaluated embossed dots map (right)

"By converting data so that it can be edited on OpenSCAD, users can take the
drawings they've made on Edel and revise them in SCAD data format on
OpenSCAD as solid objects," Minatani states. "The small, medium, and large
dots included in the Edel data are converted into solid hemispheres on the
surface of circular truncated cones in accordance with their respective

By using a 3D printer, Minatani was able to produce larger dots than could
be produced with the embosser. He created a tactile map using the 3D dots,
and enlisted the input of other visually impaired people to assess the
results of the study. The following conclusions were reached:

. The 3D models were not inferior to the embossed dots graphics produced on
paper in terms of their expressive features

. Changing the three dot sizes made it easier to distinguish them in the 3D
model compared to the paper embossed dots graphics. The large dots, in
particular, were greatly improved in terms of palpability.

. The surface smoothness of the 3D model was inferior to that of the
embossed dots graphic produced on paper.

. The abbreviated city names written on the map in Braille were not easy to

Although the results created using the 3D printer weren't without their
flaws, the study emphasized the freedom that 3D printing allows in terms of
creating different shapes, sizes, and arrangements of dots, unlike the
limits of the traditional Braille embosser. Using 3D printing also makes it
easier to create objects with Braille printed directly on them. 3D printing
can be used in a number of creative ways to bring "sight" to visually
impaired people - through maps, 3D pictures, even 3D ultrasounds. With 3D
printing technology, visually impaired people can experience the world in
more ways than ever before.

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