Filaflex and PLA: Revolutionizing Quality of Life for Individuals with Functional Diversity
Specifically, we will delve into how customized product design and manufacturing can improve the autonomy of individuals with functional diversity. Designers such as João Bernarda and organizations like the Spanish Artefactos have leveraged our materials and 3D printing technology to create adapted products that make a difference in people's lives.
Join us as we explore the process and showcase several 3D printed products. Don't miss out!
João Bernarda reviewing one of the pieces he has designed and printed with Filaflex flexible filament.
João Bernarda is a designer and assistant professor (Ph.D) at IADE-European University in Lisbon. His scientific work is related to collaborative design methodologies in the social and healthcare sectors. He has also collaborated with product and industrial design departments in advertising and production agencies. In the social sector, he has had the opportunity to collaborate with associations and organizations in the field of Mental Health, specifically in Mental Dementia and Intellectual Differences and Difficulties. He is currently working on a cognitive stimulation project in a collaboration protocol with the Alzheimer Portugal Association and CERCICA Cascais, where he collaborates with the project development department. This collaboration allows him to develop research studies that demonstrate the feasibility and importance of integrating Design in the development and construction of adapted projects in these sectors.
Artefactos.org is a multidisciplinary technological research project that was born at the University of Alicante and seeks to generate alternative and accessible open source solutions for the autonomy and quality of life of people with functional diversity. To achieve this, they draw on the confluence of collaborative design, technology and innovation.
“So far, positive results have been obtained in obtaining new data on the mental state and abilities of users thanks to the development of new adapted products that we print with materials such as Filaflex.”
João Bernarda, Designer
“Artefactos is a commitment to diversity, to people excluded by conventional commerce who cannot find products adapted to their needs and require an alternative and accessible solution to improve their quality of life. It is a meeting place for users, technicians, therapists, and researchers, where we collectively design and develop accessible assistive technologies.”
João Bernarda's projects
PROJECT 1 | Straw adapter
Design: João Bernarda for Defigne Cercica.
Material: Filaflex 95A Recreus.
"Filaflex 95A has the appropriate flexibility for this function. It allows for the creation of a flexible piece that opens and closes. Furthermore, as a TPU filament, it is very easy to print and compatible with most 3D printers."
Function: The straw adapter for Quokka bottles allows for the fixation and containment of straws, as well as the residues that remain inside. Additionally, it prevents dirt from accumulating on both the table and the user. This improves the quality of work for healthcare professionals and the quality of life for Cercica's users or patients.
PROJECTS 2 | Adaptor for spoons
Design: João Bernarda for Defigne Cercica.
Material: PLA de Recreus.
"With PLA filament, the necessary strength and rigidity are achieved to fit the spoon. It has a very good finish for creating quality final products and parts, and is very easy to print."
Function: The spoon adapter allows for the fixation of smaller spoons so that the user can be more independent during meals and adjust the amount of food they will ingest. Additionally, it prevents choking and constant supervision by health aides.
PROJECT 3 | Philips Avent 125 ml bottle holder
Design: João Bernarda.
Material: Filaflex 95A Recreus.
"Its resistance and adaptability make it perfect for the baby bottle and its bumps. This flexible filament with shore hardness of 95A fits perfectly and feels nice to the touch. Easy to grip, soft and safe for contact with the baby."
Function: Protect the baby bottle from falls and impacts and improve grip and sustainability for the baby.
In addition to the projects that João Bernarda has designed for Cercica, he has also printed other products using our flexible TPU Filaflex 95A filament. This has been the ideal material to offer other solutions to everyday problems and deficiencies. In this case, creating a protective cover for a baby bottle as shown in the photographs above. With this Filaflex cover, the bottle becomes more practical and safe for the baby, improving the grip for handling. Additionally, it improves cushioning and protects it from any falls it may experience.
João Bernarda explains to us how the products he has designed and 3D printed came about and why they are motivated:
- "The projects in collaboration with Cercica, the Cooperative for the Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled Citizens in Cascais, arose through a partnership established in 2022 as a result of my doctoral work, which involves integrating design methodologies in the social and public health sectors."
- "In this sense, I have been developing some products with the aim of improving the quality of life of patients at the Cooperative (Cercica) and their healthcare professionals."
- "The Defigne project is a continuation of a study conducted in a doctoral thesis on the application of design methodologies in the public health and social sector, now applied in the field of intellectual disabilities."
- "This study identified the absence of creative techniques and design processes in this sector, presenting an opportunity for the integration of product design professionals."
- "The main objective is to improve the quality of work of healthcare professionals, as well as the quality of life and daily life of users of these institutions."
- "The designed products emerged in the context of improving the use of tools for the food industry."
PROJECT 1 | ExoAid or FreedArm
Material: Filaflex 82A Recreus.
"The TPU Filaflex 82A flexible filament has the appropriate Shore hardness to provide the required flexibility for the device. As it needs to adapt to the user's arm, it is an ideal material due to its elasticity. Additionally, it is not uncomfortable for rubbing or prolonged exposure to the device, resulting in a pleasant touch and thanks to its smooth finish. Most importantly, it is a safe material for contact with the skin."
Function: Development of a customizable and easy-to-reproduce device to allow wheelchair users with upper limb movement restriction to carry out their daily activities. This design aims to improve the quality of life of wheelchair users.
The Artefactos team explains why and how the ExoAid or FreedArm project came about:
- "After intense weeks of designs, testing and redesigns, we arrived at a functional prototype that uses a lifting and transportation mechanism."
- "Thanks to user feedback and advice from their therapists, we arrived at a functional prototype that meets all requirements, allowing the user to reach areas of their face comfortably and safely without the need for human assistance."
- "ExoAid is mostly manufactured using 3D printing with the flexible TPU Filaflex 82A filament in white, which complies with FDA food contact regulations and is a soft and user-accepted material."
“Without a doubt, Filaflex is the best flexible filament for 3D printing. We use this material in many of our projects due to its excellent characteristics and because it is accepted by patients and safe for contact with the skin.”