Editor’s Note: At Tulane University, volunteers using 3D printing technology, have built 15 specially designed wheelchairs. The chairs blend wooden bases, wheels, and 3D-printed plastic attachments in child-friendly colors. They cost less than $200 each.
Volunteers at Tulane university dedicate their time and skills to building the chairs with the help of 3D printing technology.
“It’s very grounding,” said Alyssa Bockman, a Tulane senior who is part of the team that builds the chairs. “You can…make such a huge impact on a child with only a couple hours of effort.”
Noam Platt, an architect in New Orleans, runs the organization Make Good, which helps make the chairs for children.
The chair design is simple yet effective, combining wooden bases and wheels with 3D-printed plastic attachments, in child-friendly, bright colors. Each chair is assembled by hand, and is personalized and signed by its makers, carrying personal messages of love and care to their young users.
Platt discovered the chair’s design on an Israeli website — Tikkun Olam Makers — that offers open-source information for developers. His organization, Make Good, which focuses on devices that people can’t find in the commercial market or can’t afford, partnered with Tulane to make the chairs for children.
“Part of it is really empowering the clinicians to understand that we can go beyond what’s commercially available,” Platt said. “We can really create almost anything.”
Sebastian Grant, who was born prematurely and spent months in the neonatal ICU, received a customized chair that could support his ventilator and tubes. The chair allowed him to sit upright for the first time in his life.
“This is a chair that he could be in and go around the house…actually be in control of himself a little bit,” said Michael Grant, Sebastian’s father.
Aside from the functionality, the chairs are also cost-effective. According to Platt, each chair costs under $200 to build — a fraction of the $1,000 to $10,000 that a traditional wheelchair for small children might cost.