From patient to maker - a case study of co-designing an assistive device using 3D printing

Rune Thorsen, Federico Bortot, Antonio Caracciolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commercially available assistive devices (AD) may not always match the individual needs of the patient. Sometimes substantial customizations or a new design is needed. New ideas, arising by involving the patient, could help many, but product development and marketing is hard. We hypothesize that digital fabrication (DF), e.g. 3D printing, may be an opportunity to involve patients in the process of custom design and creation of personalized ADs. As DF is minimizing the requirement for manual activities, DF has the potential to enable people in creating ADs for personal use, despite physical limitations. However, co-design and the use of DF in AD provision is still in its infancy and scarcely reported in scientific literature. We studied the literature, performed a mini survey and then conducted a case story of a person with severe upper extremity impairment who became a maker of her personal AD using 3D printing. Implications of using DF as a key enabling technology empowering patients with physical limits to become active in personal AD provision are discussed. We conclude that this topic merits a proper scientific investigation of systematically engaging patients as competent participants in the development and realization of assistive devices and technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAssistive Technology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 16 2019


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