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3D Printing, Tactiles, and Haptics

    Creator: DIAGRAM Center: A Benetech Initiative

    Date Updated: November 2, 2022


    There are many new technologies used to convey spatial information, including 3D printing, tactile graphics, and haptics, which are greatly beneficial for education purposes. The DIAGRAM Center: A Benetech Initiative provides information about these different technologies, including links to multiple research projects and documents outlining best practices.

    The information is summarized from the 3D Printing, Tactile, and Haptics web page.

    3D Printing

    3D printing lets users create images with dimension and depth that offers users a better understanding of spatial information. The 3D printing resources include:

    • Printing braille with 3D printers is excellent for creating tactile materials for students. The resource provides a document that guides you through creating vertical braille with a 3D printer (the website’s recommended method).
    • 3D Printing for Accessible Materials in Schools can enhance the learning of all students and create an accessible environment, according to a 2013 research study (available on the website) conducted by TVI (Teacher of the Visually Impaired), and Yue-Ting Siu (UC Berkeley & San Francisco State University).
    • 3D Printing National Forum discussed the use of 3D printing in education. The forum was conducted by the DIAGRAM community in June 2015.

    Tactile Graphics

    Tactile graphics create accessible pictures, maps, graphs, etc., by using raised lines, shapes, and indents to represent images. The tactile graphic DIAGRAM Center resources include:

    • A Decision Tree that helps you choose which images need tactile and which would benefit from image descriptions instead.
    • Imageshare, developed by the DIAGRAM Center, is a collection of accessibility resources for STEM subjects.


    Haptic technology, used on tablets and smartphones, uses vibrations to augment visual information. The DIAGRAM Center includes the research paper, Intergrating Haptic Feedback for Image-based STEM Content within HTML and eTextBooks for more information about creating haptic images in eBooks.

    Visit 3D printing, Tactiles, and Haptics


    Allan, J. (2016, August 30). Printing of Braille with 3D printers. Word document.

    Benetech Initiative (n.d.) Library of Accessible Educational Resources. Imageshare. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from

    DIAGRAM Center. (2018, April 10). 3D printing, Tactiles and haptics. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from

    Hakkinen, M. (2016, June 27). Integrating haptic feedback for image-based stem content within HTML and eTextBooks. DIAGRAM Center. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from

    Landau, S. (2013, May 8). An Interactive web-based tool for sorting textbook images prior to adaptation to accessible format: Year 1 Final Report. Word Document.

    Yue-Ting Siu & TVI (2014, May 24). 3D Printing for Accessible Materials in Schools – Final Report. Word Document.