3D Printing at Seashell Trust

Matt Daly, Royal College Manchester's assistive technologist, works with staff and students to find ways they can use technology to help them become more independent.

By 3D printing small components out of plastic, Matt has been able to make and repair some of the bespoke mobility equipment our students rely on. This was a great success for one student, Emma, who struggled to bend her wrist, meaning that she couldn't set some items - like a cup containing her drink - down when she was done using them. Emma found this very frustrating, as it meant that she would either spill her cup or be forced to rely on staff helping her, and she would sometimes throw her cup at people when she was done. It seemed that the only solution that would let Emma decide when she had enough to drink would be to find a cup with a lid. Emma thought this was too young and relying on sippy cups would make it hard for her to order drinks when she went out to restaurants. Rachel, an occupational therapist at Royal College Manchester, and Matt worked together to design a new solution: a cup holder with a hollow at the right angle for Emma's wrist, letting her put her cup into the holder without spilling or needing to ask someone to put it down for her. The 3D printer let them test out a few prototypes to make sure that the design would work before they presented Emma with the finished product, a cup holder that she enjoys showing people.

Another innovative use of the 3D printer has been in art classes. Some students with mobility problems would struggle to create a sculpture but, by working with Matt, they are able to design their own pieces of art and print them, seeing how their design is put together.