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Project description

BrailleRap is a 3D printer hack able to emboss Braille on paper or cardboard (even on plastic sheets of about 100 microns).

It was developed in less than 3 days during the Fabrikarium, a hackathon organized by My Human Kit with Airbus SAS, by a team of volunteers composed of:

   * Hugues Aubin, MyHumanKit manager,
   * Arthur Masson, member of IDLV,
   * Damien Canac, Saint Gobain team,
   * Simon Descarpentries, computer science engineer, manager of
   * Yassine El Yacoubi, BNP Paribas
   * Élodie Fourment, student at Airbus highschool
   * Arezki Gastaud, ballet dancer and computer science engineer at via CapGemini,
   * François Le Berre, Airbus Safran, space observation R&D

You need a 3D printer capable of reading gcode (for example a reprap) in order to test of improve this prototype.

The concept is simple: we will first print a 3D nozzle for our printer to hold a customized nail. This object will convert our 3D printer into a Braille embosser.

A dedicated webpage enables to compute the required gcode to move the head to emboss our text.


Analysis of existing solutions, by Simon Descarpentries of Floss Manuals

Translated [from Fabrikarium documentation in french].

Overview of the existing Braille e-Book Braille e-Book Modélisation du concept par Yanko Design (Modeling concept by Yanko Design)

A Braille e-Book is a stand-alone Braille display capable of displaying the equivalent number of lines of a book page at a time. To achieve this, electro-magnets or heated wax, rather than pins, mechanically move to represent the points of Braille letters. Although the technology is not particularly expensive, the low production volumes of these devices make them very expensive. A Korean concept designed by Yanko Design caught the eye in 2009. In 2013, an English prototype called "Anagraphs" funded by the European Union failed to reach the production stage. The Australian company Blitab has announced the production, for the 4th quarter of 2016 of a Braille e-Book tablet, at an expected price of around 3000 €.

A braille display (Braille display ) is an electro-mechanical device used by blind people to display Braille characters, usually from a computer, in real time. Usually, these characters appear as highlights on a flat surface (specific paper in general).

In July 2015, Korea's Cheonan-Si launched its first 100-character Braille model, the Tactis100 (4 lines of 25 characters), which has set the standard for a market focused on 20- to 80-character devices. The price of the Tactis100 is also presented by the manufacturer as an evolution of the market, with 2000 USD for 100 characters, against 7000 USD for 80 characters usually.

Lumi Industries has designed the Lumipocket DLP 3D, a small 3D printer, announced along with software that can convert text into Braille and print it as a plate with the relief of Braille letters. This software is a collaboration between Lumi Industries and Librarylyna which is a project aiming at bringing together a large collection of educational Braille plate models.

This principle, however, poses the problem of the amount of raw material used for the production of the printed plates.

Braille print on paper, so far an artist's vision. Telescopic printer with attractive appearance, the concept of SimCheong printer and scanner Braille. Inspired by Korean history, the eye-catching A6-A4 telescopic printer has a simple goal: to make computers more accessible to the visually impaired.

Unfortunately, the artist at the origin of this concept regretted in 2012 that it is impossible to realize the idea in the current state of technology.

Braigo (contraction of Braille + The go ) is the name of a braille printer concept on paper. Version 1.0 was built with a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit, containing a microprocessor, and a set of motorized effectors and sensors. It was a 13-year-old child, Shubham Banerjee, who made it in 2014 as part of a school project.

This printer had the advantage of a low cost (between 250 to 350 euros), when the conventional Braille printers market start at 1 900 USD. Its printing capacity is, however, limited to a strip of paper.

The young inventor has since worked on new models.

The Basic-D v4, a Braille printer example from the market, claims to be one of the world's best-selling paper embossing Braille printers. For $ 2,495, it has a performance of 100 characters per second.

Prototyped for the UCMerced Capstone team, the BRAVE team (Braille Reader for Assisting the Visually OddEd), in partnership with the COVE team (the Center of Vision Enhancement), Merced and Solidoodle. Their initial assertion is that the high cost of commercially available Braille tracks plays an important role in the fact that only 10% of blind children have the opportunity to learn Braille. To improve this situation, they have designed a printable Braille 3D screen.

Each Braille character is made readable by means of a device close to the pins of a lock.

The Belgian association Braillepost intends to play the intermediary for any Braille printing for a blind person, based on the fact that the posts grant free of charge to the cecograms.

Reminder on the use of a Braille tablet

A traditional Braille tablet consists of a metal plate pre-embossed with several lines of Braille characters, themselves composed of 3 lines of 2 points, or hollow. The tablet is also equipped with pointed lugs at regular intervals around the edge of the tablet.

To this plate is added a frame perforated so that the holes correspond to the lugs of the plate. It is thus possible to hold securely in place a sheet of paper perforated by the lugs and retained by the frame. The holes made by the lugs also allow to release and reposition exactly the embossed sheets.

The sheets used are preferably thick paper, 160 g / m 2. It is quite possible to recycle paper, magazine covers, cardboard folders ...

Once the sheet is positioned, a small ruler is embedded on the frame / flap, positioned on pins pointing from outside of the frame. This small ruler has two sets of windows, each guiding the needle that will emboss the sheet, point by point.

As part of the initial realization of the Braille Rap project, being accompanied by a visually impaired person who knew how to use such a tablet was essential. In particular to establish the following examples.

Depth of Braille holes

A series of measurements were made on Braille letters embossed using a traditional Braille tablet.

  • Depth of a point:
    • Measure: 0.35mm
    • Theory: 0.48mm
  • Spacing between two points of a letter:
    • Measure: 2,7mm
    • Theory: 2,3mm

Theoretical values ​​are taken from: [Braille Authority of North America]

We thus observe that the question dealt with here is a question of precision, the aim being to produce hollows of half a millimeter in paper.

Openbraille, an open-source project of Carlos Campos (CASALAB Montreal) is a dedicated Gcode driven Braille machine that you can build for less that 150 dollars using classical 3d electronics (RAMPS), steppers motors, and 2D printer parts.. This great project is [documented on Instructables website].

[Inside One (France)] is the first device both combining a touch display, a braille matrix, vocalization and more. This new product has been released in 2017.


Main braille and visual disability experts for the teams : Rahul/reading braille/lawyer |Rashi, braille reader, coding.

Important : Rashi can be only the 11th feb in the hackathon... Rahul is here feb 11th then feb 13th.

Braillerap CNC :

  • CNC expert : Hitesh, Agrawal, Dinesh
  • Maker/electronic : Selva, Ashoh
  • Doc referent : Forum

Braillerap 3D printer :

  • 3D printing / modelling : Ojasvi
  • Makers/ coding : Arthur/Forum
  • Design/doc : Ananya / Anantika

Openbraille :

  • Makers/tinkerers : Gunjan / Jesac
  • Coding : Rashi / Akash
  • Design : Anmol
  • Doc referent : Akash

Writer and poet : Forum. Helpers / mentors for Braille projects  : Arthur / Hugues

Required material

   1 20x20 square of thick feutrine or a mousemat
   1 flat silicone piece (like for cooking)
   1 3D printer (able to execute standard Gcode is better)
   1 nail
   1 sheet of drawing paper of about 160-160mg/m² or light cardboard (like cereals box)

Required tools

   1 3D printer executing G code
   1 calipers
   1 a file
   1 pliers
   3-4 drawing clips


About 10 euros if you do have a 3D printer to hack.

Step by step tutorial

[Pad to share and chat]

[MHK tutorial]

[Online Gcode generator for Braillerap]

[Pronterface download]

[Openscad download]

[Openscad braillerap addon generator script]

[Open Braille pdf tutorial]

[Braillerap pdf tutorial]