A SANITARY napkin dispensing machine was recently installed at the Cathedral and John Connon School at Fort. Only it is not a regular dispenser installed in government schools or offices. It has been designed by three students and produced using the 3D printing technology. Three girls from the school’s Class XI — Aditi Arya, Malini Dasgupta and Devika Malhotra — built the dispenser as part of their project undertaken in a recently started 3D printing course.
“We were aware that many girls don’t even have access to sanitary napkins and some even stay out of school during periods. Therefore, we decided to design a dispenser that can be built using the 3D printing technology,” said Arya.
While the idea was novel, it wasn’t easy. First they built a cardboard prototype, which they subsequently modified. It was then built into a prototype using plastic. “It’s like a simple vending machine with a coil in a box vertically and pads go in the middle of it. The coil moves once and a pad is released,” explained Arya. To create this, they used a 3D modelling app called 123B. Principal Meera Isaacs was more than impressed with the idea when the girls presented the prototype. The school then decided to install the first one in one of its toilets for girl students.
“No idea is stupid. Only with many such ideas and a lot of brainstorming can we create something so effective,” said Arya, adding that the team learnt that “one has to go through a trial and error process before hitting success”.
The girls are now planning to approach an NGO so that the product can reach and benefit underprivileged girls who can’t afford to buy sanitary napkins. “We have also put in a lot of thought on how to make the dispensers cost effective and easily operable,” said Arya. Principal Isaacs said the course in 3D printing would encourage students to think innovative and be able to create their products. The course is being conducted by Curiosity Gym, an organisation that promotes ‘design thinking’.
Girish Nair, the founder of Curiosity Gym, said 3D printing and the new forms of technology needed to be taught to children at an early age so they could adapt and create innovative products. The organisation began in July 2015 and students have since created objects like fidget spinners, robots, lamps, dog food dispensers and many more that can be operated from a mobile phone.