3D Printing is definitely changing the way we produce things, its revolutionizing the industry like never before. Like every other technology it’s also carries the responsibility to make things simpler for the differently abled people. Offlate we have seen a lot of work being done for the visually impaired children using 3D printing mainly in the form of tactile books and visual aids tools, but what we really need is to think differently and use the technology for making life simpler for the visually impaired people who have already entered the workforce. Working on this idea a Wisconsin-based social enterprise called Beyond Vision has developed a new way of manufacturing products that could save both the time and efforts required by their visually impairedfactory workers.
The new methodology revolves around the concept of making things that fit just one way, or as the Japanese calls it the "Poka Yoke" way. Let me explain, Poka yoke is a strategy of designing products so simple that you can't do anything stupid with them. The Ethernet port or a USB plug is a great example of poka yoke as it cannot be plugged in backwards. In order to archive the simplicity of Poka yoke, Beyond Vision developed 3D print customized, mistake-proof fixtures that can be fit only in one way. Adoption of this strategy has helped the operators working in the factory to do the things correctly the first time and has increased the efficiency of them by as much as 20 %.
The CEO of Beyond Vision, Jim Kerlin told us that that the company used Stratasys FDM technologies to make the 3D Printed fixtures which were very cost efficient and has also helped them achieve a greater level of quality control. They have made a Video showing how 3D Printing technology has benefited their employees, from mistake-proofing switch assembly fixtures.
They have also made a hand held 3D Printed Map of their factory which could guide their employees find their way out of the premises in case of an emergency. Mr. Jim Kerlin explained that “It really takes on a whole different level of meaning for us. We’re all about creating job opportunities for people who are blind and I’d love to see a day when we’re doing enough 3D printing for ourselves and for other companies that we can actually create a blind job, or two, or three, and turn this into another way that we can extend our mission.”
What Beyond Vision has done is nothing extra ordinary but just reflects that with 3D printing most mundane work can be reinvented to be done differently, in the process you may just learn that what you have been doing forever could be done differently and in an efficient manner.