3D Printing and the Future of Aging By Debbie Reslock A

s high tech becomes more familiar in senior living, from electronic medical records to providing high

speed Wi-Fi to residents, the next game changer may be whether 3D printing is available to meet the demands of future customers. Reaching far beyond the latest app, this technology’s possibilities range from creating food to reproducing human tissue. The ability to print a three dimensional

object from digital files is the end result of this additive process. Thin layers of a spec- ified material are deposited until the object is formed, allowing it to create a highly customized prototype in a short period of time. With its potential of increasing both the quantity and quality of life, 3D printing is listed by author Lisa Cini as one of six technologies that will change the face of se- nior living in her book “The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined.” For example, she sees 3D printing as

being able to bring back the joy of eating for many residents. “If you can’t swallow, your food often has to be put into a blender and so you basically drink your hamburger and french fries,” says Cini, president of both Best Living Tech and Mosaic Design Studio. “But the problem is that food is so much more than just nutrients,” she says. “It should be a happy experience, not clinical. Dining is part of being engaged. It improves the quality of life.” Food is about taste, texture, and ap- pearance, Cini says, which can all be lost if someone struggles to swallow. “But now they’re working on being able to print out meatloaf and mashed potatoes that could make mealtimes positive and pleasurable again,” she says. Referring to the process of 3D printed food that has a texture able to nearly melt once it’s in the mouth, Cini says this is a great example of when technology


Courtesy of Perkins Eastman

doesn’t replace the human touch, but actu- ally humanizes the experience. Another area where 3D printing can im-

pact senior living will be the ability to print hearing aids and dentures, Cini says. Wheth- er they’ve been lost or in the case of dentures that need to be refitted, the resident would no longer have to wait for insurance approval or an appointment. They could be customized and replaced immediately. “It seems like creativity would be the only

limit to how we could improve the quality of life for seniors,” says Cini.

Real world application The architects at the Chicago office of Per- kins Eastman, an international planning and architecture firm, found themselves with a hands-on opportunity using a 3D printer. With a large concentration of this office’s work focused on the senior living market, they took on the task of designing a better door handle. But they first conduct- ed empathy experiments to replicate how the body ages and interacts with the real world, says Josh Bergman, project architect. By wearing rubber gloves and rubber bands,

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68