Maker Story: Arielle Rausin
January 17, 2019
A class assignment in the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois altered Arielle Rausin’s life trajectory. At her “Digital Making” class during her junior year, Arielle was tasked with creating a prototype of a useable product. Her professor cast the net of opportunity wide, and it was up to Arielle to harness her creativity to develop a tool that would make an impact.
Her solution was born from a personal passion: wheelchair racing, which has significantly impacted her life since she began in 2012. While training for a marathon, her coach challenged her to make wheelchair racing gloves.
In wheelchair racing, a racer’s stroke is comparable to a runner’s stride, and a great pair of gloves is similar to a great pair of shoes. Even if an athlete has mastered an efficient biomechanical stroke, the quality of the athlete’s glove can make or break a race, as proper gloves significantly impact a wheelchair racer’s stroke. The more efficient and powerful the stroke, the more speed an athlete can achieve and maintain. However, the benefits of these gloves are matched by their price tag: each pair of handmade gloves cost $250. And, the model previously on the market was designed in the 1970s and was made of suede and leather. Arielle decided to use her opportunity in the Illinois Maker Lab (located in the Business Instructional Facility) to create a more durable, more affordable solution for her upcoming race, and hopefully for her fellow wheelchair athletes.
Arielle used 3D scanning equipment in the lab to design a glove made of plastic that would improve upon the existing model on the market. From there, she utilized the lab’s 3D printing, which typically generates a prototype so makers can test it, iterate on their idea, and build upon their concept at a lower cost. Instead of producing merely a prototype, Arielle’s first attempt at 3D printing resulted in a working model of a glove she could use.
Arielle took her passion further by launching her own company, Ingenium Manufacturing, in 2016. Ingenium is currently the only business in the country which offers wheelchair racing products using 3D scanning and printing technology.
“Athletes watch a video on our website that shows them how to measure their hand, then they can find the appropriate size on our size chart. We also take custom orders where athletes send us specific photos of their hand and we can create a pair for them that way,” Arielle says.
To make the first few pairs of 3D printed gloves, she used a laser scanner to scan molds, which typically took about an hour. Arielle then invested about four to five hours to post process each file and improve the glove’s design using a program called GeoMagic. After the scan was converted to a mesh, she then would import it into another piece of software to make the file readable by the 3D printer. Once she transfers the file to an SD card, she puts the card into the printer, and with a push of a button she’ll have a pair of gloves just twelve hours later. The result is a lightweight, higher performing glove than the model currently on the market. Additionally, Arielle sells the gloves at $150 a pair, a stark contrast from the $250 athletes have grown to expect from the traditional glove available.
Today, Arielle continues to work in the Visualization Lab in Beckman Institute to produce new products available to her fellow athletes while she trains and competes in the Abbott World Marathon Majors series all across the world.