Let us make a Braille Printer

  • Posted on: 30 March 2018
  • By: ashok

Motivation: At one stage of life, I was left without any vision in my right eye. Fortunately, the best eye surgeon could correct most of it. I have empathy for the blind.

Provocation: Recently I had meet Hugues from Lyon, France. He and his team at Human Kit, have developed a printer for the blind which is like a personal desktop printer that you and I use. I am wanting to take it further.

Price point: IDEO begins all design efforts by keeping the customer in the center of it. I do this with an artifact of figuring out the price range at which 50% of my potential customers would stop thinking about the price of a product and start looking for its features. All buy decisions are a combination of price and features.

Price point aimed at: A desktop printer frees a normal person. His readings are no longer confined to what somebody else has printed. He can print anything available on the net and he can print whatever he writes himself enriching the contents of his writings with contents created by others. The desktop printer for the blind should give them similar freedom, but at a price that is about double of desktop printers for normal people. The double price is a consequence that the volumes of production are going to be very small compared to normal printer. A good quality Canon desktop printer using ink-jet costs about Rs 10,000 or US $150. I am aiming for a desktop printer for blind at about $250.

Pune startup Dee Dee Labs to develop low-cost prosthetic hand

  • Posted on: 21 May 2017
  • By: ashok

I had the great privilege of meeting the team at Dee Dee Labs earlier this year in Mumbai. They are working on a low-cost prosthetic arm in a start-up incubator run by Venture Centre at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory's NCL Innovation Park, Pune.
Dee Dee Labs has an interesting prosthetic arm design and they are doing good work. Today's Indian Express has a great article on their journey so far. Congratulations to everyone at Dee Dee Labs. Keep up the great work!

Pratik Bhalerao, a co-founder at Pune start-up Dee Dee Labs, demonstrates the working of the prosthetic hand. Photo credit: Indian Express. Pratik Bhalerao, a co-founder at Pune start-up Dee Dee Labs, demonstrates the working of the prosthetic hand. Photo credit: Indian Express.

Does Finite Element Analysis need improvement?

  • Posted on: 21 February 2017
  • By: ashok

Does Finite Element Analysis (FEA) need improvement or it is rock solid?


When a young mechanical engineer starts his learning he is quickly taught that the mechanical world is divided into two binary halves. One half is rigid structures where the component parts do not move relative to other parts and that all reactions are local. FEA rules this world. The second half is the world of machines where parts do move in relationship to other parts. Dynamics, kinematics and tribology rule this world but FEA is not far away when it comes to analyzing each individual component of the machine as that component can be seen as a rigid structure in most cases (except for springs and hydraulic devices).

One Ring to Rule Them All

So is FEA the one ring rule to rule them all? Are there structures that do not fit in the neat categories above? If yes, are they worth studying to see if they can be analyzed by FEA, or does FEA need improvement to analyze them?

Fitting a prototype 3D printed prosthetic hand

  • Posted on: 8 August 2016
  • By: ashok

Last Friday, August 5, 2016 my associates at Vigyan Ashram, Pune fitted a prototype 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand onto Parshuram Takalkar, an amputee who has lost his right forearm. Mr. Takalkar kindly agreed to meet Ms. Shilpa Saraf and her dedicated team on a rainy afternoon in Pune and seated himself in the back of Ms. Saraf's car to be fitted with the prosthetic hand. After flexing the prosthetic hand a few times, he fitted the palm into the handles of a shopping bag at his feet and lifted the bag to place it on the seat next to him. After letting the handles go for a moment, he picked up the bag by its handles once again and put it back at his feet. Mr. Takalkar was then offered an object that he gripped by its handle and proceeded to lift it to his lips, to mimic a drinking action.

Creating a 3D Printed Myoelectric Prosthetic Hand suitable for India

  • Posted on: 28 March 2016
  • By: ashok

Earlier this evening, I gave a talk at Jaipur on The Challenge of Creating a 3D Printed Myoelectric Prosthetic Hand that is suitable for India.

The Invitation Card

You are cordially invited to an interactive talk by Ashok Mathur on Plan to Fail: The Challenge of Creating a 3D Printed Myoelectric Prosthetic Hand that is suitable for India.

The session shares the story and the process of how an idea, a desire to do good and a challenge transformed into creation of a team, acquiring of skills, search for solutions and finally the successful creation of a customisable 3D printed myoelectric (sensors picking information from muscle movement) prosthetic hand that is suitable for at the shoulder' amputees (thresher accidents are the main reasons for hand amputations in India). At the same time the production cost has been brought down from 3.75 lac to 10,000 rupees.

This session will be useful to businessmen, entrepreneurs, managers, doctors, designers, scientists, engineers, IT people, non profit workers, basically anyone who is planning on creating anything (and we hope that is everyone).

Paper mosaics

  • Posted on: 20 February 2016
  • By: ashok

During the mid-1980s I lived in a large metropolitan city near the sea. Returning home from dinner with family and friends, I would often find myself driving under big city lights along the promenade facing the sea .

One weekend I took a holiday at a nearby hillside resort that looked down on a river snaking through flooded rice fields and glinting in the sunlight.

Back from my holiday, I created paper mosaics that attempted to capture the mood evoked by these two sharply contrasting vistas.

A paper mosaic is composed of hundreds of paper snips individually glued down on a large expanse of stiff paper. Smaller snippets can be layered on top of larger ones to create depth. Not covering the canvas with paper creates negative space that can just as powerful.