Ikea hacks its own products to make them better suited for disability

To coincide with Disabled Access Day 2019, Ikea has launched its ThisAbles range of add-on products that aim to make daily life easier for disabled people, including bumpers for bookshelves, super-sized zippers and corner markers for shelves.

Ikea has launched a new range that can be 3D-printed, which aims to make the company’s existing products and furniture more accessible for people with disabilities.

The project, known as ThisAbles, has been led by Ikea’s Israel office alongside non-profit organisations Milbat and Access Israel, which specialise in creative solutions to help disabled people in everyday life.

Customers can print the products themselves by downloading free plans on the ThisAbles website, and taking them to any 3D-printing shop or facility.

Most products need to be printed in polylactic acid (PLA), a material commonly used for 3D-printing, and can be attached to existing Ikea items and furniture.

Products include bumpers for wheelchair users, which can be attached to the front of Ikea bookshelves that have glass panels, to protect the glass in case of collisions.

Another example is a large, round handle which can be fitted to any product that has a small handle, making it easier for people with conditions that affect movement and coordination to grip, such as cerebral palsy.

Other items are geared towards those with sight impairments, such as corner markers that can be attached to Ikea shelves to clearly indicate the boundaries of where a shelf starts and ends.

The website includes step-by-step assembly instructions for the products, once they have been printed.

There is also a series of videos on the website featuring people with a range of disabilities assembling and using the products. The video campaign has been created by Ikea, alongside advertising agency, McCann Tel Aviv.

People can submit suggestions for more products they would like to see included in the range through the ThisAbles website, as well as share any accessibility problems with existing Ikea furniture they would like to see tackled, and offer possible solutions.

There are many 3D-printing shops available in the UK, including chains such as 3DCompare.

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