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GLIFO – The Custom-Made Writing Aid

“The slightest sketch of a pencil may just mean the world. Those scribbles, even whenunrecognisable, are full of joy and enthusiasm.And they can change somechildren’s life.

Glifo The Custom-Made Writing Aid

At 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021, in the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, we heard from Enrico Bassi, Fab Lab Director and Manager of the FabLab in Milan, sharing the story of Glifo.

OpenDot FabLab provides a space for making and learning new things. They use technology and co-design to accelerate innovative processes that have a positive impact on companies, universities and public administrations.

Glifo is a 3D printed custom aid that helps children with disabilities achieve autonomy in writing and drawing.

It allows people who suffer from cerebral and physical disorders to write and draw freely, without the help of parents and therapists.

Glifo is a lightweight, customizable and tailor-made writing tool that has been developed to help change somechildren’s lives.

The idea ofGlifo was borntohelp children with a complex neurological disorder write and draw so that they could leave their marks.

A need brought up by the therapists of Together To Go, an incredible foundation that takes care of more than a hundred children with complex neurological disease, for free, every year.

The therapists witnessed how important it was for children to engage in these activities like their schoolmates did, and even more if they could do it autonomously.

Glifo was created in response to a specific need: that of having a functional handle that takes into account the motor difficulties of a child with complex neurological pathology to be able to write and draw independently.

There are other accessible aids on the market but most are not usually attractive, the cost is prohibitive and they don’t always satisfy the user’s needs.

Joining Forces

Thats when the OpenDot and TOG (Together To Go) Foundationjoined forces.

It was back in 2014 when the first Glifo was developed as the result of an intense collaborative process by makers, designers, rehabilitation experts, therapists, students, and families of children with neurological disorders.

The outcome was a functional, low-cost, accessible, beautiful, and therefore inclusive solution that, thanks to 3D printing, could be tailor-made for each child.

“From a medical point of view, we knew it needed to focus on the back of the hand, reducing the contraction of the limb. But it also needed to be also easy to use, nice to look at, suitable for use at school and at home, and most importantly tailor-made to suit each user”

Cristina Dornini, TOG Foundation, Therapist Coordinator

Designing Glifo

Pen holders for children with disabilities exist already, but on average, theyre heavier, less colorful, adjustable (not custom made) and hold the pen in the palm of your hand.

These features satisfy the larger category of people but are less effective in some cases such as TOGs young guests.

Some of Glifos features have the sole purpose to make it feel like it belongs to a specific person, making them feel important and unique. Its a choice that makes production harder, but the solution way more effective.

The designers went through three different designs before they were satisfied with the end result.

Custom Made to Fit the Need of Every Kid

“But it is not enough to have a great product, so far every family has to come to us to check dimensions to get the perfect customized Glifo, we want to change this and make it easier” Enrico Bassi, Fab Lab Director.

OpenDot FabLab together with TOG Foundation recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new design of Glifo (lighter, smaller, easier to use), as well as the development of an online configurator that will enable anyone to personalize their own Glifo from home.

“With this campaign, we aim to raise fundingto develop an online configurator that will enable anyone to make their own Glifo, tailored to their specific needs and taste.”

The online configurator will allow people to choose the correct dimensions, tilt, and colour using a simple and accessible online interface. They will even give it a name to make it feel like part of the family.

With the configurator, everyone can create, download or receive their own Glifo without leaving their own home.

The latest design is lighter, smaller, easier to use, and capable of holding more types and sizes of pens, pencils, and markers to let kids choose how they channel their creativity.

A simple and practical tool designed thanks tomodern 3D printing services, that allow OpenDot to affordably print Glifo and make it available almost everywhere in the world.

All of the help received is being used to create the configurator and also allow OpenDot and TOG to donate Glifo to those who cannot afford it. Through the Kickstarter campaign, people can donate Glifo to foundation associations and schools that had no chance to buy it themselves and even hospitals working withkids who will benefit from it.

How DriveWorks is Supporting GLIFO

FabLab OpenDotand TOG believe everyone who needs a custom made Glifo should be able to easily create, personalise, and have their own printed without leaving home.

Enrico shares “To actually make this possible, we had to use biometric designs, of course, we went through different software and in the end, we found out the best one was SOLIDWORKS.”.

After getting started with SOLIDWORKS, the team were then introduced to DriveWorks.

When OpenDot realised how many things were possible using professional tools and online configurators as powerful as DriveWorks, they realised that biometric design has so many potentials when it comes to designing things for people with disability, and for people who use things to interact with the world in a different way from everyone else.

The DriveWorks team have been extremely proud to get involved with the project and help support OpenDot and TOG use DriveWorks software for creating a Glifo custom configurator.

Our team have been working closely with Enrico and the team of makers and designers at OpenDot to support them in creating an online configurator that offers all of the functionality that is needed to make Glifo as personal to the individual as possible.

“We managed to bring the idea a step closer to reality after being introduced to the amazing team at DriveWorks”Enrico Bassi.

A recent update from the OpenDot team lets us know that they aim to have the configurator ready by the beginning of March. From that moment they will start delivering all of the Glifo donated to kids as well as associations, schools and hospitals.

Supporting GLIFO

Glifo is helping children with complex neurological disorders write and drawso that they can leave their mark on the world.

Find out how you can help support Glifo and OpenDot.