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Polymer Roller for Production of Improved Braille and Tactile Graphics

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R43EY021427-01
Agency Tracking Number: R43EY021427
Amount: $125,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: NEI
Solicitation Number: PA10-050
Solicitation Year: 2011
Award Year: 2011
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): N/A
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
United States
DUNS: 023960367
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (541) 754-4002
Business Contact
Phone: (541) 754-4002
Research Institution

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The specific aim of this proposal is to determine if it is feasible to use a polymer-coated shaft in placed of a precision-machined roller die for the purposes of producing braille and tactile graphics. If successful, this project will result in the selection or development of an acceptable polymer to be used in commercial braille embossers. Using a polymer-coated roller as opposed to a machined metal one would allow braille and graphic dots to be printed anywhere on a page, not just positioned according to a fixed grid. In addition, dots produced using this technology would be much smoother than those produced by a standard metal punch and metal die system. These improvements would allow more accurate tactile representation of images, particularly curved shapes such as circles, ellipses, sine waves and more. This improvement in computer-designed tactile graphics would enable top quality graphics to be produced quickly and easily, which would clearly be beneficial tothe visually impaired, especially those studying or working in science, math, engineering or other technical fields. Another benefit of using a polymer-coated roller rather than a machined metal one is the reduction in noise from the embosser. The sound created by the metal solenoid punch pin firing into a polymer roller will certainly be much quieter than that created by firing the pin into a metal roller. The polymer-coated roller would also be less expensive, allowing cheaper production of better embossers. This technology is expected to reduce the prices of embossers into which it is implemented significantly. A quieter embosser capable of producing better braille and tactile graphics at a lower price would allow more visually impaired people to access the tactile materials they need for education, in their professions and in their daily lives, which certainly has the potential to improve their mental health and quality of life. Mental health and quality of life issues for blind people are part of themission of the National Eye Institute. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This proposal is relevant to the mission of the National Eye Institute, because it could lead to greater availability of braille and high resolution tactile graphic materials to thevisually impaired. This could open up more avenues of study for the visually impaired, especially in technical fields that rely heavily on graphical representation of data, and have a highly beneficial effect on education, professional opportunities, mental health and quality of life of blind people. Mental health and quality of life issues for blind people are part of the mission of the National Eye Institute.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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