PrintLab Classroom: Assistive Device Academy - FREE

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Assistive Device Academy - Free Lesson


Students will utilize CAD skills to research, test, and design affordable assistive devices.

* This is a lesson that is part of The PrintLab Classroom lesson portal. To view details of the full portal, click here. *

**If students have designed models that will come in contact with food, it is recommended that they are used for prototype purposes only. Otherwise, please check if the material you are using is food safe**

On Food Safe Printing



This creative project has been developed in collaboration with Makers Making Change - an innovative community based initiative that connects makers to people with disabilities.

Lesson 1 begins with students learning about affordable open source assistive technologies through a series of case study videos. Following the overview, students participate in a range of skill-building CAD tutorials to design several example devices. The example devices are 3D printed prior to the lesson by the teacher and analyzed and tested at the end of lesson 1. 

In the main part of the project, students work in teams and are guided by design instructions to develop a prototype for an assistive device of their choice. The design journey involves human-centred design principles, whereby an individual user is identified before concepts are developed to solve the daily challenges of the user. Finally, ideas are transferred to CAD software before being 3D printed and presented to the rest of the class.

*With thanks to Makers Making Change and Ian Hanna for their contributions and inspiration for this lesson plan*


Enrolling in PrintLab Classroom will give you complete access to the teacher training material and lesson documents. This includes content to help you prepare and deliver the lessons along with design tutorials so you become familiar with the process prior to teaching it in the classroom.


Subject Areas

The lesson can be incorporated into the study of maths, physics, design technology and computing. The material can be adapted for ages 10-15.

Learning Criteria

In this project students will:

  • Develop an understanding of assistive devices and their benefit to people with disabilities
  • Develop an understanding of how open source collaboration and 3D printing can positively impact the production and distribution of assistive devices
  • Use research, design-thinking, human-centered design and sketching skills in teams to develop a concept for an assistive device
  • Use 3D modeling software to design an assistive device
  • Use 3D printers to manufacture an assistive device
  • Analyze their work and the work of their peers to suggest improvements to their designs



Equipment List

Each student will require:

1 x laptop/computer with mouse and internet access to use Tinkercad software

1 x pen/pencil


The teacher will require:

1 x 3D printer and PLA filament 

1 x laptop/computer with mouse, internet access and slicing software or the 3D printer

1 x set of 3D printed demonstration models (STL files included in lesson materials)

1 x set of demonstration objects (soda can, buttoned shirt, standard-sized (coke, fanta etc) drinks bottle, shopping bags, key, M4x12 nut and bolt)​

Post-it notes (set of 2 different colors required for each team of 4-5 students)

Large (A3+) sheets of paper (1 sheet for each team)


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