3D Printing Ramps up Accessibility


Raul Krauthausen purchased a MakerBot Replicator 2, and set out to 3D print some standard items like key chains and trinkets. It wasn’t until he had used the 3D printer technology to print a wheelchair cup holder that Krauthausen realized he could use 3D printing to solve an everyday problem.

Using the technology before him, Raul Krauthausen decided to design and 3D print ramps which would allow wheelchairs to access otherwise inaccessible areas, such as curbs where there is no wheel chair accessibility. After practicing on key chains, phone covers, and the like, Raul began to ramp things up, and his MakerBot Replicator 2 helped bring his ideas to life.

Raul Krauthausen himself uses a wheelchair. Raul was born with Osteogenesis imperfecta, which means that his bones are more brittle and break easier. He is the co-founder of the platform SOZIALHELDEN, an award-winning group of change-makers who have created several important social innovations in Germany.

The design, Raul says, is light and small enough to fit into the back pocket of a wheel chair, yet large enough to allow a wheelchair to drive up a decent sized step. It’s also made to be non-slip and can be printed within 24 hours.

While Raul says that there is still room for improvement in his design, he is pleased with his product and the access it gives him to otherwise inaccessible areas.

This is just one more example of the ways that 3D printing is helping to empower people to create solutions, and allowing their ideas to come to life.