Braille printer prototype developed
A group of Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) students from different Faculty of Mining engineering programs developed a braille printer prototype; this would enable blind people to have access to academic and literary documents. According to the researchers a braille text costs approximately US $800.Medellín, 19 de febrero de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN–
The printer receives text which is previously translated into braille using a software program also designed by the students.
There is only one braille printer in Colombia. Photo: Taken from https://imprentabraille.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/imprenta.jpg
“We discovered that in two foundations in the city only had one book between them,” said Andrés Vanegas UNal-Medellín Industrial Engineering senior. Therefore they thought of a project which could help blind people have access to written sources.
The project has two components: hardware and software. “The latter is a small software program, also designed by the development team, which is in charge of receiving the text, translating it and sending signals to the hardware to print. The hardware is an Arduino chip which sends signals to the punch to emboss the paper and to the servomotors to move the head and paper,” said IT senior Juan José Ospina Carvajal.
There is only one braille printer in Colombia and it is located in Bogotá; and although you can acquire these types of printers they cost over US $3,000. The printer designed by the students will cost approximately COL $1,100,000 (US $324) because they used a second hand printer for parts.
“We took the example of students in Argentina which use recycled printers and the work of a boy in the U.S. who produced a braille printer with Lego® pieces and parts from a hardware store,” said Vanegas.
The project has been thought to impact universities, schools and libraries of the country as well as people who want to purchase the product. However they still need to improve the prototype. “We got the printer to do the small things we needed, but we hope to continue working to achieve everything we want from it. For this we need help from other experts in the electronic part and for them to become part of the development team,” they said.
Generally speaking blind people depend on somebody to read to them. This is a limiting factor when it comes to studying or holding a job, which could be easily solved with a printer and a software program as the ones designed by the students.
According to Chemical Engineering senior Robin Roncancio Gómez, the printer was manufactured with repurposed materials from other printers such as the chassis and some mechanical parts, although he recognized that they need to solve the ink carrier issue, because they are removed because they do not need them. “When we eliminate the ink carrier we throw it away and this causes an impact on the soil and water, which is another challenge,” he said.
The students will continue to further develop the printer during the next semesters and hope to improve the technology so it will be more effective.(Por: Fin/DGG/MLA/APBL