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Machine Design

An easy read — at your fingertips

A grippy, but soft overmolded thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) thumbwheel and bezel on the new Focus 40 and 80 line of Braille Displays help keep computers in place so vision-impaired users can smoothly navigate Windows and other modern computer environments.

An easy read — at your fingertips

Floridabased-Freedom Scientific's line of Focus Braille Displays are portable devices that attach to lap and tabletop computers. They feature easy-toremember braille commands for Windows, Jaws for Windows, and braille settings. Used with the Jaws screen reader, the refreshable Braille cells act as a tactile monitor that lets users navigate and read information in dynamic Braille.

The adjustable laptop/keyboard accessory features a seamless transition between the Braille cells to give displays a paperlike feel under the user's fingertips.

One challenge the device maker Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group, St. Petersburg, Fla., faced was making sure the foot for the device's thumbscrew could hold the computer onto the Braille display with minimum effort. The designers worked closely with custom molder, Caprock Mfg., Lubbock, Tex., during development. The molder was instrumental in finding soft-touch TPEs that would easily overmold on to the display and impart a solid grip so laptop computers would easily adjust, but would stay in place once users found a comfortable typing position.

Based on previous experience with TPEs from GLS Corp., McHenry Ill., and particularly those of Kraton-based Dynaflex overmolding TPE, Caprock recommended two TPE grades. Dynaflex G7960 with a 60 Shore A hardness was picked for the platform bezel and a 70 Shore A hard version, G7980, was deemed best for the foot that holds the computer onto the Braille display. Both grades reportedly process easily on the Caprock Nissei and Toshiba injection-molding machines, giving the molder reduced cycle times and providing parts that exhibit uniform gloss and no surface blemishes.

Caprock Manufacturing,
(806) 745-6454,
Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group,
(800) 444-4443,
GLS Corp., (815) 385-8500 or (800) 457-8777,

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