Seventh grader builds a braille printer with $350 worth of Legos

Braille 3D printer

When Lego revealed its line of EV3 Mindstorms robots last year, Bay Area tech companies came up with some very goofy applications. 12-year-old Santa Clara resident Shubham Banerjee just came up with a decidedly more meaningful one: a braille printer.

Banerjee noticed that braille printers can cost more than $2,000 and wondered if he could drop the price, according to his father, Niloy. A Mindstorms kit is $350 and easily modifiable, giving Banerjee most of the parts he needed to build the printer.

Shubham Banerjee and his braille printer. Photo courtesy of Niloy Banerjee.

Shubham Banerjee and his braille printer. Photo courtesy of Niloy Banerjee.

The printer works with regular calculator paper. A robotic arms moves a module that contains a push pin, which pushes down on the paper to create the bumps that form a letter. Right now, one letter can fit on each line on the paper and each one has to be manually inputted. It can print a letter every five to seven seconds.

In the video below, Banerjee prints the word “cat” at the suggestion of his little sister, Anoushka.

“Cool!” she responds, upon feeling the braille.

Banerjee originally developed the printer for a science fair, but has since expanded his dreams for it. He hopes it can help people in developing nations have easier access to braille printers, which can open up a whole world of expression and interaction. He plans to make the design and Mindstorms program he developed open source for anyone to use, though the printer is still a prototype.

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