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The Use of Ink-jet to Produce Tactile Maps

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Tactile maps and diagrams are raised line pictures used to present graphical information to people with visual impairments, corollary to Braille being used to present textual information. It has been demonstrated that inkjet technology offers a novel and potentially highly efficient means of producing tactile maps.

The technology utilized a custom-built flatbed printer with a 180 dpi 500 nozzle print head and ultra violet curing inks. By only partially curing print layers, sufficient that ink drops on the substrate remained domed, subsequent layers were printed which would cross-link and form a homogenous material protruding from the surface of the substrate. The 180 dpi print resolution inherent of a commercial print head is more than sufficient to exceed the areal tactual acuity of the most sensitive user. The ability to build three-dimensional features onto substrates at resolutions of 180dpi or less means more distinct symbol, line and texture features can be manufactured than by any standard tactile map making method.

Psychophysical studies have revealed that users are able to understand far lower print heights than the previously recommended half a millimeter and there is a preference for matt substrates. Further research will continue to combine materials science and systems engineering principles with those of psychology and cartographic design to fully exploit the technology in such a way that it is of most benefit to the end user.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • For more than 30 years, IS&T's series of digital printing conferences have been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in 2D and 3D printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference that brings together industry and academia, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems?particularly those involved with additive manufacturing and fabrication?including bio-printing, printed electronics, page-wide, drop-on-demand, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based systems, and production digital printing, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields. In 2016, the conference changed its name formally to Printing for Fabrication to better reflect the content of the meeting and the evolving technology of printing.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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