Making the Difference with 3D Printing at the Calgary Makeathon

Article by Kelly Clancy updated September 1, 2016


Javelin was a proud sponsor of the Tikkun Olam Makers Calgary Makeathon 2016 last weekend in Cochrane, Alberta. Tikkun Olam is a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to repair the world. Founded in 2014, Israeli non-profit group Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) brings people living with disabilities and technologists together in order to create solutions to different challenges. Founded by the Reut Group and the Schusterman Philanthropic Network, the Israeli non profit works as a social franchise providing groups and entities around the world with licenses to hold their own independently operated and facilitated TOM Makeathons.

Calgary Makeathon

The local Calgary licencee facilitated an annual 3-day marathon of making (a “Makeathon”) connecting engineers, designers and people living with mental and physical disabilities. Calgary is the first TOM community in Canada and is only the second community in the world to host its second annual makeathon. TOM and their sponsors provide the makers with a wide range of manufacturing tools and equipment, including 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics, software, and industry expertise.

The Calgary Makeathon 2016

Each TOM Calgary maker team consists of a maximum of six people, including a need-knower (someone living with the challenges of a disability), and designers, engineers and students. The youngest maker at this years’ Makeathon was 16 years old! This was a record for TOM Makeathon events worldwide. From August 26th, 2016 to August 28th, 2016, the seven maker teams worked around the clock at EGB Manufacturing to develop working prototypes that help empower people to overcome obstacles in their lives.

Javelin provided Stratasys uPrint SE Plus and Fortus 250 3D Printers at the Calgary Makeathon for the maker teams to quickly and accurately print prototypes and parts. This year, the Calgary Makeathon produced several successful projects that utilized 3D printing technology in their final functional prototype. One maker team printed multiple iterations to ensure accuracy and fit. Continue reading to learn about the prototypes that utilized Stratasys 3D printers at the Calgary Makeathon.

3D Printed Hearing Device

Need-knower Gina suffers from high-frequency hearing loss. She is unable to use her hearing aids when chatting with her family over the internet. Her maker team developed a device in which a Bluetooth receiver takes in sound from a device (such as a computer) and divides the sound into frequency bands, which Gina can then adjust to make louder or quieter. As a result, Gina can now remove her conventional hearing aids and use this special device, along with headphones, to chat with her family over the computer and listen to music. The electronics for this hearing device are enclosed in a case that was 3D printed on the Stratasys Fortus 250.

3D Printed Custom Cane

Team Rose designed and created an innovative cane for their need-knower Rose. Rose has Parkinson’s Disease and often struggles with walking and reaching objects. She also occasionally suffers from freezing – a temporary, involuntary inability to move. Team Rose created a custom self-standing cane with several features to help improve Rose’s daily life, including a 3D printed robotic grabber with a pointing laser, and a line laser to assist her when she has a freezing episode. The handle and claw of Rose’s cane were 3D printed on the Stratasys Fortus 250.

3D Printed Posture Device

Need-knower Gloria suffers from severe myopia and is legally blind. When she is reading, she has a habit of bending over to get close to the page for extended periods of time. Consequently, this leads to chronic back pain over time. In order to prevent her back problems from becoming more severe, Gloria’s maker team created a haptic feedback device that informs her when her back is bent over too far. The maker team developed a small, portable device that Gloria wears on the chest of her shirt. This device includes a Gyroscope housed in a 3D printed case, printed on the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus. It features a small clip that allows Gloria to securely wear her device. When Gloria bends forward, the device produces a small vibration, reminding her to sit up and straighten her spine, helping to avoid future back pain.

Accessible Solutions

Following the making portion of the event, sponsors, makers, volunteers and members of the community gathered at the Calgary JCC for the exhibition and closing ceremony. The maker teams presented and demonstrated their functional prototypes alongside their need-knower.

All solutions and functional prototypes developed at Makeathon events worldwide are made open-source so that others struggling with similar challenges can access the solutions developed and build off of the work that has been done. These brilliant maker teams and need-knowers are the true definition of tikkun olam and are “making the difference” one functional prototype at a time.

To learn more about TOM Makeathons, visit the TOM website:

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Kelly Clancy

Kelly has been working in the 3D technology industry since 2014. Kelly is an Assistant Marketing Manager based at Javelin head office in Oakville, Ontario.