Envision The Future Design Challenge Winners!

Throughout the past 4 years, the global e-NABLE Community has been focusing their attention on creating free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of a “Helping Hand.” To date, they have gifted an estimated 2500+ devices in over 80 countries around the world. The power of innovation through collaboration and the benefits it brings into the world when ideas for designs that can improve the lives of others are shared into the open source community… is evident in every image and video that is shared of another child or adult receiving their new 3D printed e-NABLE hand or arm.

Watching this Community grow and expand into a global team of digital humanitarians who are eager to share their ideas, support each other and encourage the next generation of makers to “think outside the box” and using this system of open-source sharing and problem solving to help their fellow humankind (and sometimes even furry or feathered kind), is nothing short of beautiful.

Earlier this year, we decided to see what would happen if we started posing new challenges to this incredible group of makers, students and volunteers, that pushed them outside of simply focusing on hands and arms…and started  getting them thinking about other ways they could help improve the lives of others. We started with the “Within Reach” design challenge, asking them to think about designs that could help those who still have their fingers, but who have lost function in them due to stroke, nerve damage or disease and they showed us that they were eager to be challenged with a new task and designers from children to adults, delivered over 200 designs that would help aid others in their daily lives after surgeries, medical diagnosis and the inevitable aging process.

Today, we are excited to announce the winners of our latest design challenge, “Envision The Future,” where we once again teamed up with MatterHackers and Pinshape, as well as LulzBot to bring this challenge to life. We asked them to create designs for the visually impaired, the blind and the world’s tactile learners that could be easily 3D printed in classrooms, home school offices, retirement centers and clinics to help them navigate through life a little easier or to give them new learning tools to help them continue exploring the world around them.

The Maker Community delivered once again, and while we had numerous designs that were entered into the contest, there can only be 3 “Winners” in each category for prizes…but there are so many wonderful and helpful designs that have been created and shared freely, that I do hope you take a few moments to go visit and see all of the entries and perhaps even print a few out and take to your local Retirement center or schools!

Please continue to create new designs, even though the contest is over…we would love to see Pinshape’s collection of open-source designs for the Visually Impaired grow even bigger! All you need to do is share your design with the #envisionthefuture hashtag and it will be added to the search function so that your design shows up when people search for new tools to 3D print for the visually impaired!

Now, on to announcing the winners chosen by a judging panel consisting of: Dave Gaylord of MatterHackers, Steve Berge of the Braille Institute, Rob Shulenburg Director of Transition Services for Junior Blind and Jen Owen of enablingthefuture.org.


3rd Place – Music For All by SebDrummer

This design gives musicians the opportunity to feel and interact with music vs just listen.

SebDrummer writes, “My idea is to allow a composer to be able to quickly publish the score of his musical work for the use of blind people. Or for a blind person to be able to keep a written record of its composition, to be able to replay it later.

Simply place the different musical symbols in the grid (26 characters per line) width of an A4 sheet of paper, with an assembly system like a puzzle. The parts have chamfers so as to be held in the holder just by a fairly light support of the fingers on each piece laid. The support can be taken and lifted without the parts falling. It is easy enough to remove them from below when you want to write another musical score. A line generally corresponds to a measure of music.”

SebDrummer – Congratulations! You have won a $50 MatterHackers gift card!
Please feel free to accept your winning digital badge as well by going HERE!

2nd Place – Spotty(X): A Braille Multiplication Educational Tool by Robert Van Zyl

This design was created to help visually impaired students to practice multiplication in a tactile way.

Robert writes, “As a sophomore in high school, I think it is safe to say that in some form, multiplication lies at the heart of our everyday lives. We use multiplication in every aspect of our lives, including anywhere from determining how much three apples will cost at the grocery store to finding out how much a 3D printed model of a certain size would cost in terms of the PLA used. What if we could give the next generation a head start in the realm of multiplication, more specifically the visually impaired population?

After some rethinking and tinkering, I had finally come up with a design that functioned as a usable tool that helped visually impaired students learn and practice multiplication. I wanted a tool that was easy to use and also effective at teaching multiplication.

I believe that this simple tool with have a major impact on the way visually impaired students in elementary school learn multiplication. By allowing students who are tangibly inclined to feel and play with this model, I believe that this combination between math and a tangible model will accelerate the students learning and give the future generations of visually impaired students a head start in their math.”

Congratulations Robert! You won a Crafty 3D printing pen and a $100 MatterHackers Gift card!
Please feel free to accept your winning digital badge as well by going HERE!

1st Place – USA Braille Map: Feel The World by samsuchin

This map allows visually impaired students to get a sense of the shape of the states and provides an easily printable tool for the classroom!

Samsuchin shares, “Creating this tool was a very tedious task but came with its rewards. Knowing what I took part in was an exuberant feeling and I feel very accomplished. I wanted to create an object that simple and easy to use for people of all ages.

With the USA Braille Map the visually impaired can now comprehend the states in the USA. This tool can be used perfectly in the classroom for education study, or even people who want to have a new hobby. Each state has their two letter abbreviation in braille and every state border has different elevations so the user can get a better understanding of the territories for each state. As an 8th grader throughout middle school i have taken countless numbers of geography test. And  some one who is visually impaired, should not be held back to have the same experiences and knowledge as anyone else.  So what better way to achieve this with the power of 3D-printing, the opportunities it can offer to the visually impaired is astounding. In conclusion I feel that this tool can put a whole new aspect of learning with the visually impaired and will let them gain access to important information that is known everywhere all across America.”

Congratulations samsuchin! You won a LulzBot MiniMatterControl T10 and 3 Spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA!
Please feel free to accept your winning digital badge as well by going HERE!


3rd Place: Tactile Circuit Blocks by Mike_Curtis

This design helps to teach the visually impaired as well as sighted individuals about basic circuitry. The blocks are printed using standard PLA with dual extruded conductive filament channels and can be combined together magnetically!

Mike writes, “Reflecting back on my own experience of education I considered topics that are relatively abstract but can be demonstrated well practically. Electronics and particularly the fundamentals of simple circuits seemed like the obvious choice as concepts such as complete circuits, voltage and current can seem abstract if you were not able to see circuits diagrammatically. Practical demonstration can involve ‘fiddly’ bread boards, loose wires / batteries and often bulbs (offering no feedback to the blind).

Each of the blocks is standardised with tactile symbols on each with braille descriptions on the main components. Initially I ran wire through the blocks to pass current and test the concept, but with the final blocks I used conductive filament (Proto-Pasta) removing the need for additional wires in the connector blocks.

The standardisation of the blocks means that blocks can be easily created to house a whole range of potential components: motors with offset weights for vibration feedback, resistors, capacitors.”

Congratulations Mike! You won a You have won a $50 MatterHackers gift card!
Please feel free to accept your winning digital badge as well by going HERE!

2nd Place: Rotational Line Graphing Tool by Justin Larson

This graphing tool helps to teach algebra to students. You can move and rotate the line to show how different values change the equations.

Justin shares, “The rotational graphing tool consists of a coordinate plane with grooves running through the x-axis and the y-axis. In these grooves, a line can be inserted. This line can be rotated and maneuvered up and down the axes. Essentially, this tool helps the user understand how the slope of lines can be manipulated, in addition to how x-intercepts and y-intercepts can change the properties of a function.”

Congratulations Justin! You won a Crafty 3D printing pen and a $100 MatterHackers Gift card!

Please feel free to accept your winning digital badge as well by going HERE!

1st Place: Rubik’s Cube Braille Tiles by gorgesjonathan

This design is easily printed and creates an awesome challenge for the visually impaired who can now enjoy hours of fun playing with the Rubik’s Cube thanks to 3D printed Braille tiles!

Gorgesjonathan shares, “My oldest daughter (9 Years old) and I designed and assembled these braille tiles that can be glued to a Rubik’s Cube. I work with the blind professionally in an education environment. Following the idea of Universal Design (Example – Curb cuts help people using a wheelchair, but also parents pushing a stroller) I try to create things that a sighted person and a person who is blind can work together on.  If someone is color blind they can also use different color plastic to accommodate for the colors they can’t differentiate. 

What makes our design unique is we use color filament so a sighted person can work together with a person who is blind. 

The next feature is we added an orientation line at the bottom of each tile. This allows as the cube is turned that the braille user know were the bottom of each tile is.”

Congratulations gorgesjonathan! You won a LulzBot Taz 6 3D printer,MatterControl T10 and 3 Spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA!
Please feel free to accept your winning digital badge as well by going HERE!


There are so many incredible designs that were created in the #envisionthefuture challenge that I want to share a few more before I suggest you head to the repository of designs and browse through them yourselves!

If you participated and would like to claim your participant badge – please go HERE!

Piano Key Braille – by ashley_bob

Ashley_bob shares, “I was talking to a piano teacher who had been offered to teach a blind boy and she was telling me about the difficulties and challenges that would be associated with such an endeavor. The solution to most of these problems is labeling the keys which is what this design does.”

Tactile Braille Labeled Adjustable Angle Model by Nathan Borwick

Nathan explains, “This is a very helpful tool for anyone who is visually impaired or blind. This angle model prints easily in two pieces that snap together.  The “angle pointer” can be moved to represent the different angles.  Each angle has a braille label on it. The braille reads: 

30, 60, 90, 110, 150, 180,  210,  240,  270, 300, 330, and the raised line represents 0 or 360.”

Pocket Braille Finder by daveyclk

Daveyclk says, “This is a cool pocket Braille finder that has a neat internal mechanicsm and tactile feel by turning the wheel, the Braille pins will either lower or raise representing the correct Alpha – Braille Translation.

This is truely pocket sized, measuring in at only 70mm x 63mm x 8mm. It has been designed to be carried around for quick reference, it could also be used by schools to teach the alphabet.”

Braille Thing by neal_at

Neal_at said, “This is the Braille Thing? It’s an educational system designed to help Low Vision and Blind students learn and produce simple Braille letter through an interactive system. There is a clip on board that has cut out’s for changeable magnets that can make up any six character or less words. Under the larger cut out are a replica of the six cells used in Braille. There are printed dots that have magnets as well to produce the above letter in Braille. For a new Braille learner this process can be difficult and at some times straight up boring.   I designed this for a student who is rapidly losing her vision and will eventually be a Braille media learner, out of all the Braille learning activities this was the one she would ask for on a daily basis.”

Bottle Top Pouring Guide by Blind Students working with 3D-Assist Irleand

They share, “This bottle top pouring guide was designed by a group of visually impaired children in Ireland. It is to help visually impaired people locate the locks on door s etc. The children made up models of their designs using clay and the 3D Assist group of students in IT Tallaght then did 3D models of their ideas.”

Key Carer by aom012

Aom012 explains, “I was influenced to design the Key Carer when I had attended a camp for people with special needs  helping assist them over a course of 6 days. I had met a person who was visually impaired.  I began to realise the day to day battles these children were faced with, and quickly started to imagine how my design could positively have an input in their daily activities. One of the challengers faced but my new friends was finding the right key to their rooms and having to rely on their carer’s. This encouraged me to find a solution.”

Connect Four – For Visually Impaired Persons by ramonangosto

Ramonangosto explains, “Because we all have the right to play, I have decided to make a game design of connects four so visually impaired people can also play it. It is the well-known game whose goal is to get four of the tiles of the same color before the opponent does.

It has a vertical board, red in the image, which must be inserted the tabs, black and yellow (depends on the color in which they are printed). Black has a small hole in the center, in order that these can be distinguished from the opposites also by the touch.”

There are so so SO many more amazing designs that I wish I had time to link to individually – but I hope you take a few minutes to go check out all of the designs for educational models, assistive tools and just plain ol fun and games that were entered HERE!

Thank you to everyone that participated as a designer or a mentor to students who shared their ideas and designs with the global community!

Please consider continuing to populate the gallery of designs with your own by going to pinshape.com and uploading your designs with the #envisionthefuture hashtag so that they can be included in the repository!

Thank you for helping us to make a difference!

STAY TUNED….we have another fun challenge for you to do over the summer!!