3D Rotor Box

Submitted by the 2019 Summer Advanced AT Topics Class at Northern Illinois University

3D printing technology has become one of the most popular ways to make tactile images for people who are blind or visually impaired. Because of this, Northern Illinois University has added to its Advance Assistive Technology Topics class a unit on 3D printing. During this class, students are required to print an object that can be used to aid in instruction to a student or client. 

Using the website Thingiverse, it is possible to find a wide range of premade files of 3D objects ready to print. In our class this summer, we learned of an object printed by some of the students in the summer 2017 class: A replica of the iOS Rotor Box that appears when using VoiceOver. While it is not necessary to see the Rotor Box in order to use it, VoiceOver does produce a visible Rotor Box for those with vision. It looks like a dial with hashmarks for each setting in the contextual rotor. As the settings are changed, the dial on the rotor moves clockwise or counterclockwise, to correspond with each choice. The rotor file we used can be found here.

We used a MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation 3D printer to create our Rotor Box. When the print was approximately 90% complete, we switched the orange filament we had chosen for the base of our object with white filament, to provide contrast. As a bonus, the file creator (ATNeal) even added braille, which reads “rotor box,” to the front edge of the model. We think our print came out really well and wanted to share it with you.

Photo: top view of 3D printed rotor box with orange base and white spinnable dialPhoto: front view of 3D printed virtual rotor showing 1/4" base and braille dots that spell 'rotor box'.