MOLBED: Braille Display

MOLBED: MOdular Low cost Braille Electronic Display

MOLBED is a side Maker project developed by Lumi Industries’ founder Davide Marin.

It is part of LUMI INDUSTRIES CARES initiative in line with our philosophy, with which we want to show how 3D printing can really benefits everyone!

Molbed is again dedicated to visually impaired people and aim to give an alternative to expensive refreshable braille displays currently available in the market.

Braille system, created in the mid XIX century by Louis Braille, is based on a module of two parallel row of 3 dots, which can be felt with a finger and can create up to 64 combinations.


Braille alphabet


We have created a single character module with 6 small pins, 3D printed with our LumiForge resin based 3D printer and a magnetic retaining system. Their are mounted on an electronic board which controls their ascent and descent.

To be Maker-friendly, breadboard compatible and inexpensive, the design of the individual character had to meet some minimum requirements:
• must use as many parts that are already commercially available
• should be made up with the lowest parts count possible
• custom parts must be easy to prototype, easy to scale up (injection molding)
• power must be not needed to keep the state of the pins

The main idea behind the project is quite simple: For each pin, one coil can move some very small magnets from one end of a cylindrical body; at each end, two small pieces of ferromagnetic material will hold the pin in position. With this design, power is not needed to keep the state of the pins.

With the current design, each “dot” on a character module is made up of 2 3D printed parts (Body and Magnet holder), 2 M2 nuts, 2 magnets, and 0.1mm enameled wire. A controlling PCB also hold the bodies. This design uses a really low parts count, and efforts have been put to use parts already available, such as the M2 steel nut; this design allows for a very low cost per character.

This is the starting point to create a “LinePCB” holding 8-10 characters, with a modular approach and will be followed by a “PagePCB” holding 6-8 lines.

The final goal is to build an entire Braille refreshable screen as a standalone device like a Braille Tablet, or incorporated into an existing device.

The project was self-funded, and we decided to not patent this system because we’d like to see as many people as possible benefit from it.

This project has been selected as one of the thritheen final one of Make To Care Prize 2016, promoted by Maker Faire and pharmaceutcal company Sanofi

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MOLBED project development step by step

Video of the working prototype