REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL
April 22, 1998
Robert S. Jaquiss Jr., Agent
International Braille Research Center
11970 SW 9th Street
Beaverton, OR 97005
IBRC National Office
1800 Johnson St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
T. V. Cranmer, President
Vendors of Rapid Prototyping equipment, software or services
are invited to submit proposals to fulfill the requirements in
whole or in part, as outlined below. Written responses in print or
electronic form must be submitted on or before May 15, 1998 to the
first address as shown above. If a proposal includes examples or
parts, it may be submitted on or before May 29, 1998. All
inquiries should be directed to the above address.
The International Braille Research Center (IBRC) desires to
utilize Rapid Prototyping technology to produce tactile diagrams
and maps for persons who are blind or visually impaired. The
technologies presently in use are not adequate to meet the needs of
the blind. With the increasing use of graphic images to convey
information, professionals and students who are blind encounter
severe difficulties competing on terms of equality with their
The ideal system should be able to produce tactile diagrams
and maps with an X axis of 11.5", Y axis of 11" and Z axis of 0.1"
affixed to a substrate 0.050" to 0.1" in thickness. The map or
diagram may be produced as a single item or it may be composed of
sections that precisely fit together.
The tactile image is intended to be used in two possible ways:
1. The part will be used by the end user.
2. The part will be used as a master part from which copies
will be made. Surface finish is very important. A variety of
lines and fills are needed. It should be possible to produce
the following features in heights ranging from 0.01" to 0.1":
1. Solid lines
2. Dashed lines
3. Dotted lines
4. Lines of various widths from 0.03" to 0.1"
5. Braille characters (A PostScript fonts exists for braille
Brief Overview of Current Technologies
The following paragraphs briefly describe some of the more
commonly used techniques currently used to produce tactile maps and
Simple raised line maps and diagrams can be produced by
embossing heavy paper. The process consists of creating a set of
mating metal plates. The plates are mounted on a press and the
press embosses the image on paper. The system is expensive,
marginally effective, and only usable for producing two-
dimensional line drawings.
Complex images can be created by using collages. A collage is
made by gluing to a piece of cardboard pieces of paper, cardboard,
strings, wires, fabric, sandpaper, seeds, pasta and other items.
The collages are then placed in a vacuum forming machine and
plastic copies are produced. The collages are difficult to
produce, take a long time, are unstable and could attract vermin.
CNC machines have on occasion been used to produce diagrams.
They are often used when producing the raised signs found on many
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
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