Written by Clare Scott via 3dprint.com
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s coincidence or the start of a trend, but in 3D printing news, certain topics seem to suddenly be everywhere at once. Lately, stories about 3D printing applications for the visually impaired have been coming out of the woodwork, and I love it. A couple of weeks ago we covered Linespace, a tactile tablet that allows blind people to interact with maps, diagrams and other visual data. One thing that limits Linespace, however, at least in terms of maps, is its size; it’s definitely not portable. The beauty of a map is that you can take it with you and use it to orient yourself in any location.
A Finland-based designer named Samuli Kärkkäinen has created an application to help the visually impaired orient themselves via maps in any location. Touch Mapper is a simple tool that 3D prints tactile maps using map data from OpenStreetMap. Just enter the address that you want to map out, and Touch Mapper will instantly bring it up. You can drag and adjust the map if you need to, then click “create tactile map” and the site will show you the 3D model of the map. At that point, you can 3D print the map yourself or order a print from 3D printing service Playful Pixels. Normally, a map from the service costs €42; but they’re currently being sold at a discounted €35.