3D Printed ‘Fittle Puzzle’ Assists Visually Impaired People in India to Learn Braille Efficiently

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Eye care specialists from India’s leading eye institute L. V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Indian designer Tania Jain, German educational toy manufacturer Ravensburger and an independent global communication group called Serviceplan all of whom collaborated to create a unique open-source 3D printed puzzle called as ‘Fittle’. This 3D printed Fittle puzzle will help visually impaired people to quickly and efficiently learn Braille, a language for the visually impaired.

Learning Braille is a norm for any visually impaired person around the world. It empowers the person to learn and get assimilated in the society and gives the person a sense of pride to live his life with dignity. But the learning process is costly and often outdated. Specialists from L. V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) sought to ease this process and collaborated with multiple companies and agencies to create a unique way to help visually impaired people learn the language quickly.

Fittle Puzzle

The Fittle Puzzle - Ship

Above: The Fittle Puzzle – Ship/Image Credit: Fittle

Fittle is the world’s first 3D printed Braille puzzle to help blind and visually impaired learn and discover. Since the Fittle puzzle is 3D printable, the design file can be easily shared across the globe and anyone can access the file to print the same and start learning.

Each Fittle puzzle is a set of pieces which when joined together make the letters of the word and the same object. By connecting the words and the shapes, the student understand the words and even the design and shape of the object. This helps in dual learning experience, previously missing.

The Fittle puzzle - Violin and Rocket

Above: The Fittle puzzles – Violin and Rocket/Image Credit: Fittle

According to Christoph Bohlender, the Creative Director at Serviceplan Health & Life, “Feedback has been overwhelming so far. More and more children are learning braille better with Fittle.”

The first Fittle puzzles were made from wood but on some feedback from the users, there was a need to reduce the weight of the objects. Additionally the team wanted to lower the costs so that it can be made available cheaply. So, with help from Novabeans, the Fittle project team decided to 3D print the parts in an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer. The Ultimaker 3D printer could provide the necessary quality, at required price and a way to easily share the designs around the world so it can be 3D printed as and when required in similar 3D printers.

3D Printing is making a big difference. A simple comparison explains tells that a budget of $10,000 can provide nearly 16,000 pieces of the Fittle puzzle whereas the same budget can provide only 200 Braille books and 4 Braille Readers. A significant impact is achieved by 3D printing.

Budget Braille Readers Braille Books 3D Printer + Puzzles
$2500 1 50 1 + 1000
$5000 2 100 1 + 6000
$10,000 4 200 1 + 16,000

The team was happy with the Ultimaker printers and aim to use them further to build the increasing library of Fittle puzzles. It has started distributing the Fittle puzzles to its regional centres. The puzzles are available for free download on the Fittle Website.

Fittle Project

Visually impaired student using the Fittle puzzle

Above: Visually impaired student using the Fittle puzzle/Image Credit: Fittle

Fittle is not just a puzzle, but a project which aims to help people all over the world. The digital braille reading device typically costs around $1000 making it unaffordable to more than 90% of the blind and visually impaired people living in countries around the world. The simple basic necessity is costly and this hampers their growth. Outdated study materials are often provided which makes it difficult to learn the language at speed and people often leave the earning halfway.

Above: Case Film – World’s First 3D Printed Braille Puzzle/Video Credit: YouTube

According to statistics, there are 22 million visually impaired people in India itself. Most of them end up unemployed and have to resort to a low socio-economic status in the society because of lack of education.

Fittle project aims to raise funds and provide 3D printers to communities in schools for the blind and visually impaired in India and many other developing countries who cannot afford expensive learning devices.

Also Read: Bosch Announces Global Investment in Ultimaker’s 3 Extended 3D Printing Systems

About LVPEI: The L. V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) was established in 1987 at Hyderabad as a not-for-profit, non-government eye care institution. L V Prasad, an Indian film maker made huge monetary and land donations for the establishment of the institution. The mission of LVPEI is to provide “equitable and efficient eye care to all sections of society.” The institute was founded by Dr. Gullapalli Nageswara Rao.

About Ultimaker: Ultimaker is a Dutch 3D printer manufacturer. They are the manufacturers of the famous Ultimaker range of FDM 3D Printers namely, Ultimaker 3 family, Ultimaker 2 family and the Ultimaker Original.

About Ravensburger: Ravensburger AG is a German toy manufacturing company and is a market leader in European jigsaw puzzle market


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is the first online 3D printing magazine in India. We offer 3D printing news in India, analysis and insights from the 3D printing world of India. Check out our Indian Scenario page for more 3D printing news from India.

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Abhimanyu Chavan is the founder of Manufactur3D Magazine. He writes on Additive Manufacturing technology, interviews industry leaders, shares industry insights, and expresses his thoughts on the latest developments in the industry. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
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