Sunday, July 3, 2011

Prototyping Devices for (and with) Visually Impaired Designers

One of the newest researchers at Innovations in International Health @ MIT is Ted Moallem. Ted directs a project called the Blind-Lead Initiative which aims at developing solution for the blind by also enabling them to prototyping their own devices. One of the results looks like this:

What’s more impressing is the amount work the group has done in actually designing a solution that the users themselves can prototype and redesign.

More at

UL Pen is mightier then the solder gun

Researchers at the University of Illinois have created a silver-inked rollerball pen to write out electrical circuits.

from Eurekalert:

"The key advantage of the pen is that the costly printers and printheads typically required for inkjet or other printing approaches are replaced with an inexpensive, hand-held writing tool," said Lewis, who is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

More at Advanced Materials

The Lewis group seems to be in great shape to make a dent in small scale and distributed manufacturing and prototyping technologies:

Lewis Lab site:

Our group is divided into three main sub-groups with a rich and overlapping set of interests:

(1) Complex Fluids - We investigate the phase behavior, structure, and rheology of colloidal suspensions using a broad array of techniques, including light scattering, rheological measurements, in situ drying stress measurements, and direct visualization approaches, such as confocal microscopy and high speed imaging. Our current focus includes microsphere-nanoparticle mixtures, biphasic colloid mixtures, colloid-filled hydrogels, polyelectrolyte complexes, and photoresponsive colloid systems.

(2) Colloidal Assembly - We employ directed assembly approaches including colloidal epitaxy, evaporative lithography, and microfluidic devices to create precisely patterned colloidal films, granules, and other 3D forms.

(3) Direct Ink Writing - We are designing novel inks for direct-write assembly of planar and 3-D structures with locally tailored composition and architecture. A myriad of ink designs are under development, including colloidal, nanoparticle, fugitive organic, polyelectrolyte and sol-gel inks. Complex 3D structures h ave been produced with minimum feature sizes ranging from ~ 0.2 µm to 300 µm