MakerBot and TOM Announce Thingiverse Challenge for Better and More Accessible Assistive Technology

TOM_logoMakerBot, a global leader in the desktop 3D printing industry, today made available 3D designs for assistive devices and challenged members of MakerBot Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D printing community, to improve these prototypes. The prototypes were designed at the Bay Area Makeathon for assistive technology, a 72-hour event organized by Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) and United Cerebral Partners of the North Bay, and sponsored by at TechShop San Francisco on September 11-13. MakerBot was the official desktop 3D printing partner for the event. The event brought people with disabilities and others who understand their needs together with technologists, educators, designers, and makers. Together they created groundbreaking assistive devices for people with disabilities who can’t find or afford off-the-shelf products to address their needs. MakerBot is announcing an Assistive Technology Challenge on Thingiverse to make these life-changing inventions available to people with disabilities worldwide and is inviting the global Thingiverse community to further iterate on the designs and prototypes.


“We are blown away by the solutions that were developed during the Bay Area Makeathon for assistive technology”, said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot. “There are thousands of people with disabilities around the world who can’t find off-the-shelf products that address their needs, simply because there is no business case. The Bay Area Makeathon exemplifies how 3D printing can democratize medical innovation, and we’re excited to upload the prototypes to MakerBot Thingiverse to make them available to people around the world for free and allow the global community of 3D designers to improve upon the great work done at the Bay Area Makeathon.”

The following are a select number of 3D printed devices from the Bay Area Makeathon that are featured in the Assistive Technology Challenge on Thingiverse:


Team Grabber won the MakerBot Award for Rapid Prototyping at the Bay Area Makeathon for a stick that allows Kim Lathrop, who has no arms, to grab and move objects with her mouth. Lathrop said that she is excited by the possibilities of the Grabber: “This device helps me do things myself, which is a basic human desire. There are so many things I’ll be able to do now, like setting a table for guests.” The Grabber team went through multiple iterations prototyped on a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer and the final 3D design files for the Grabber are available on Thingiverse.

Team members: Alex Gecht, Inbal Halperin, Kim Lathrop, Maayan Kahana, and Noam Platt


Carry Crutches

Anyone who has ever had to walk on crutches knows how difficult it can be to carry things, especially a cup. To solve this common problem, Team Carry Crutches developed a self-stabilizing cup holder that attaches to a crutch and can hold a beverage without spilling. The team designed a 3D printed gimbal inspired by those used to steady a camera on an aerial drone. The team developed two versions of the cup holder: a mechanical version that costs only $15 in materials and combines 3D printed parts with ball bearings, and an electronic version that features a Raspberry Pi, servo motors, and an accelerometer which costs $30 to build. “We know that sometimes, helping people do the simplest tasks can have a tremendous impact, that’s why our team created the Carry Crutches,” said Tomas Garces, a design engineer at General Electric Firstbuild. “To have a person on the team who has a need for the device was integral to our design process and we look forward to seeing how people on Thingiverse improve upon it.” The 3D design files for Carry Crutches are available on Thingiverse.

Team members: Benoy Bhagattjee, Daisy Bermudez, Ilan Sherman, Maayan Dremer, Matthew Wasala, and Tomas Garces.

MakerBot_diagram_2015.10.06_axis_rotation_Carry Crutches

Smart Ass

Frequent wheelchair users are at risk for developing pressure sores after staying in one position for too long; some sores can cause serious infections. Right now there are very few measures to combat this problem, like using a soft pillow to minimize contact with a seat. The team 3D printed a device that could be fitted to the bottom of any wheelchair seat and equipped it with sensors that tell the wheelchair user, or a caregiver, to shift their weight to ensure blood flows to the affected area. They also created a smartphone application via which the notification to move would appear, and directly paired that with the 3D printed device.  The 3D design files for Smart Ass are available on Thingiverse.

Team members: Hagit Alon, Oscar Segovia, Paul Herzlich, Pierre Karashchuk, Shaun Giudici, Tomás Vega, Yakshu Madaan, and Yonni Bank


iEat: Independent Feeder

For a person with limited hand control, using a spoon, fork, or knife is a significant challenge. There are feeding devices available, but they typically cost thousands of dollars and often promise more than they deliver. Using several 3D printed parts, team iEat developed a low-cost device that helps people with limited hand control to feed themselves. The 3D design files for iEat are available on Thingiverse.

Team members: Clarice Torrey, Dana Yichye-Shwachamn, Ken Fujimoto, Randy Darden, and Zebreda Dunham

MakerBot_2015.10.06._iEat: Independent Feeder

Pill Crush

Pills can be too large for people to swallow and many consumers have difficulty crushing these pills to make it easier for them to take. Currently available solutions often waste medication in the process of transferring the crushed medicine from a mortar to a syringe. Team Pill Crush prototyped a portable medicine grinder that also functions as a syringe using a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer. The final device will be made of nonstick materials and include tools to round up any remaining medication. The 3D design files for Pill Crush are available on Thingiverse.

Team members: Andrew Shostak, Derrik French, Eli Chissick, Oded Shorer, and Oscar Segovia

MakerBot_2015.10.06._Pill_Crush_Pill Crush

The Assistive Technology Challenge on Thingiverse will last until November 1 and invites Thingiverse users to rethink, remix, and expand upon select designs from the Bay Area Makeathon, with the focus being on creating things that assist people with disabilities. Participants can also upload new designs of their own. Submissions will be judged based on creativity, usability and real-world impact. Participants have a chance to win a MakerBot Replicator (5thgeneration) with MakerCare, have their design featured on the MakerBot Thingiverse website, and receive strategic consulting to take their prototype to the next level and help people globally.

Desktop 3D printing has introduced a new model of innovation to the medical field in which anyone can turn ideas into physical objects and develop new products. Innovations from past TOM events include walking aids and book-reading devices. MakerBot Replicators have also been used by researchers to develop 3D models that help surgeons prepare for surgery, grow cartilage to repair tracheal damage, prepare customized dosages from pharmaceutical filament, and make low-cost prosthetic hands.