Young visionaries build life-improving creations with 3D printers


While some see 3D printing as a novelty, others are using the technology to develop novel solutions to a wide range of societal issues.

The latter was demonstrated at Brandeis on Sunday morning, when students from several universities from the northeast, as well as from Waltham High School, participated in a 24-hour 3D printathon competition hosted by Deis3D, the Brandeis 3D printing club and the Brandeis Library and Technology services MakerLab.

The competition challenged teams with an open-ended, yet complex task: build something that represents what social justice means to them.

Some of the finished products were inspiring, ranging from an iPhone-compatible braille keyboard for the blind, to the winning design: a specialized prosthetic limb that would make it easier for a person who was missing a lower limb to ride a bicycle. One of two Brandeis teams, Louis’ Makers, made two projects: a working scale that represents the need for gender equality and a light fixture that is powered by gravity.

Gender equality is a key issue in society, and with the gravity-powered light, the intention was to build something that could illuminate spaces inexpensively for the millions of people around the world who don’t have access to electricity,” says Benjamin Levin ’16, a biological physics major from Philadelphia. “Social justice means equality and giving people equal footing. 3D printing allows people access to things they normally can’t get at an approachable level.”

Members of Deis3D also helped mentor students from Waltham High School, who built a water wheel that generates electricity. The students, which designed and printed the wheel from start to finish, said that the idea behind creating a water wheel was to take a natural resource and channel it in a way that could deliver power to the masses.

"I blown away by what students came up with in 24 hours,” says Eduardo Beltrame, the president of Deis3D. “3D printing is enabling. It’s yet another tool, but you can do anything with it, including social justice."

Deis3D’s success has snowballed since it was founded nearly a year ago by former student Noah Fram-Schwartz, who now works at Google.

“It’s awesome to see this take off and blossom,” says Fram-Schwartz, who was one of the printathon’s judges. “Our mission is to create an innovative technology hub at Brandeis. This brings people together to crank out amazing things. Some of these devices could hit the market soon and be successful. They could change the world."

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