This Rare 1950s Braille Globe is Getting the 3D-Printed Treatment

Thursday January 11, 2018 Written by garry

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Queenslander Richard Frank Tunley dedicated his life to designing braille toys and devices – and now one of his finest inventions is getting the 21st-century treatment. Even though braille has been around since the early 1800s, it took a while for the concept of education access for all to catch on. Take Queensland for example, where education for the vision and hearing-impaired wasn’t compulsory until 1924. Tunley, a strident disability activist, helped change that law. He was also pretty handy with his tools. Tunley's most ambitious creation was the braille globe (pictured above), a handsome, wooden orb with metal features and plates that sat atop drawers containing an atlas in braille. Sadly, only one of these globes still exists, so the State Library of Queensland has teamed up with the Queensland Library Foundation to preserve it in the most contemporary of ways: through digitalisation.

High-resolution photographs will be taken of the globe from a variety of angles before a digital replica is pieced together using 3D modelling software. The replica can then be 3D printed, and although it will be plastic rather than timber and metal, it will still be tactile. 

See more of Tunley's incredible inventions in this short documentary

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Top image: ABC News

Bottom image: 3D Print