During her Push Across Cayman on Feb. 15, Paralympian and university business student Arielle Rausin completed the journey wearing 3-D printed gloves she designed.

A member of the university’s wheelchair team, Rausin got the idea from her track coach to carry her own race gloves, and from there produced with two classmates what is likely the world’s first 3-D printed wheelchair racing gloves.

The gloves are lighter than the original handmade version and help reduce wheelchair racing-related injuries such as tendonitis in the wrist area due to overuse.

“I am working on getting all 30 members of my [varsity racing] team … printed gloves, and I am also working on a universal design that children and beginners could use,” said Rausin. “My goal is to reduce the price of a pair of gloves so more people have the opportunity to try the sport.”

Arielle Rausin
Arielle Rausin

The University of Illinois senior first tried her hand at design while taking a business course called Making Things, designed to help students understand an array of aspects of business from marketing and manufacturing to design.

On a class trip to the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Urbana, Illinois, students were assigned to bring an object for a 3-D scan. This is where Ms. Rausin’s gloves come in.

From her perspective, 3-D printing of her gloves had its advantages. Since custom-fit gloves are quite costly (roughly US$350), 3-D printing manipulates cheaper material to create a similar result for around US$4.

Also, the numerous replicas and different versions that can be made via 3-D printing allow for modifying gloves for different climates and temperatures, as well as fit.

Rausin, 22, was rewarded for her innovation with a grant for a 3-D printer for the Division of Disability Resources and Education Services, a post-secondary disability support program.

Since then, Ms. Rausin has gone along to produce many other gloves.

Now she is inspired to someday start her own business.

“It will definitely involve 3-D printing,” she said. “And its primary focus will be giving back the to the community, but I’m unsure of how the rest will work out right now. Thankfully I have one more year of classes to brainstorm.”

During her time in Cayman and participating in the Push Across Cayman was an “incredible experience,” she said. “The island is absolutely breathtaking, so pushing right along the ocean and mangroves is a real treat.”

The climate here was a challenge, but nothing she could not conquer. “By the end of the 55 miles my body was hurting from being in the racing chair for so many hours, but the pain was worth it, because hopefully many Caymanians saw us out there and were impressed by what people with disabilities can accomplish,” she said.

TOP PHOTO: The 3-D printed gloves designed by Arielle Rausin.