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3D PRINTERS HELP THE BLIND TO SEE FINE ART

Fariha Marjia
3D PRINTERS HELP THE BLIND TO SEE FINE ART
Photo: John Olson holding 2D print of Van Gogh’s Dr. Gachet while standing in front of 3DPhotoWorks tactile version

From building nature-saving bridges and making honeycombs for estranged bees, the wonders of 3D printers never fail to captivate us. Thanks to 3DPhotoworks, 3D printing is now envisioned to be the new “eyes” for the blind.

New processes have been implemented that enable these printers to transform one or two dimensional forms of renowned fine-art like Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa into a tangible three dimensional form, thus allowing the unsighted to experience these artwork through feeling them.

John Olson, Founder of 3DPhotoworks has always been fascinated by distortion of images and development. He has now taken up the task of transforming some of the majestic works of art into more tangible forms, to carry on inspiring people and spreading the beauty. Olson explains in an interview that "As a young man I decided I wanted to be a photojournalist...Later on in my career I began to realize how important images had been to me. And I started to wonder what my life would have been like without them. And that prompted me to wonder, what is it like for the blind...that motivated me to develop a printing process that blind people could see."

The whole process can be summed up in three steps, as Olsen clarifies. First step is to convert the 2D into 3D readable data. The data is then sent to be sculpted out of a block of substrate. Once that is done it goes through the printing process with the aid of the image to give it the clarification and details. The result appears to be the exact 3D replica of the ooriginal image. Romeo Edmead, a blind writer, ran his fingers over the 3D art and expressed the sensation "it was kind of like opening up a new world!" 

We often doubt whether too much technology is truly becoming “too much”, with the advancements drawing in more adverse consequences than being aiding. However, the causes which 3D printing technology is embracing should give our thoughts a lift. And make us, the doubtful lot, see the little light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Images used in this article are the courtesy of 3DPhotoworks.

January 21, 2016
About Author

A Law major, Fariha loves skimming through libraries and smelling old books. Her interest for movies and music makes her free-write contents and cover reviews at Intellect.

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