Consideration of Human Factors in Designing Customized 3D Printed Assistive Technology
Event Type
TimeWednesday, October 12th4:30pm - 5:30pm EDT
LocationPoster Gallery
Description3D printing is a low-cost fabrication tool that offers the skilled designer infinite possibilities for customization of a physical object. Customization can benefit persons with a disability (PwD) who present with specific abilities and limitations that are not supported by prefabricated, mass-produced assistive technology (AT) (Buehler, 2017; Day & Riley, 2017). Human factors contribute to the unique presentation of each individual. Therefore, designers need to analyze and consider these varied components in the design process to create an effective device that addresses the users’ needs within their context.

In the AT course of an occupational therapy graduate program, students participated in a 5-week 3D printing module. Community-dwelling PwD collaborated with students to gather information about health condition, abilities and limitations, and personal and environmental factors that impacted their current and desired level of functioning. Students selected, and later modified, 3D print devices that optimized functional capabilities of the user based on specific needs and feedback.

This interactive scenario enhanced students’ perspective of clients’ activity limitations and personal situations and how AT could support functional performance. Client feedback highlighted necessary modifications to customize devices to match users’ abilities, limitations, and contexts. Students integrated themselves in the AT process and acknowledged 3D printing as a viable solution for a specific need.

These outcomes support the need for AT curriculum to integrate innovative applications that emphasize the complexities of PwD and their environments so students can analyze how these factors influence their recommendations and subsequent usability of their solution.
Clinical Assistant Professor
Clinical Assistant Professor