IKEA Offers Free 3D Printable Files To Make Its Products More Accessible For People With Disabilities

IKEA recently announced a project that uses 3D printing to help people with disabilities. The project is called ThisAbles and consists of a set of free 3D printable files that improve the usability of IKEA’s products for people with disabilities--for example, an adapter to make a light switch easier to operate, and a riser that raises a couch up by several inches.

This project caught our attention because it’s a perfect application of 3D printing. Because disabilities can vary, it’s hard to mass-produce a product that will be easy to use for all people. Instead, most companies choose to design their products to be easiest to use for the average person. That unfortunately leaves some people out and makes daily tasks more frustrating and challenging for a person with disabilities.

3D printing is a great way to solve this problem, and it’s encouraging to see IKEA using it here. What’s even better is that they’re making the files freely available so anyone can download them and have them 3D printed for their own use. There are currently 13 designs available, each with an accompanying video on IKEA’s YouTube channel to show it in action.

Hopefully IKEA will add more designs as this project matures--they actually have a page on their site where you can offer to help with a new design, or bring a new usability issue to their attention. This is a great opportunity for the engineering community to come together to make the world a better and more usable place for everyone, so if you have an idea for a design, we’d encourage you to look into this project.

This type of 3D printing application is exciting to us at 3DPros, and we’re always looking for ways we can contribute to the growing use of 3D printing in research and advancement. If you know of an opportunity to 3D print parts for accessibility, or if you personally have need for 3D printed parts like the ones designed by IKEA, get in touch with us--we’d love to help.

Daniel English