Bednet Virtually Transports Bedridden Schoolchildren to the Classroom with Mobile Unit

November 23, 2017

Bednet is an organization which enables children with long-term or chronic illnesses to follow classes from the comfort of their own home. The patient’s friends and classmates can see them on a screen at the back of the class, and they can follow the lesson as if they were physically present. We donated 3D-printed parts for the Bednet mobile unit, which was nominated for the prestigious Henry van de Velde Life Quality Award last year!

Group of kids looking at a person on a screen
The class gathers around the mobile Bednet unit

Since 2006, Bednet has been helping children between the ages of 5 and 18 to follow lessons remotely, while still feeling part of their class. They could have a chronic illness, or it could be a temporary condition such as pregnancy or recovery from an accident. The students join the class by means of a screen set up at the back of the classroom, through which they can follow the class and participate in it. Until last year, Bednet was using a combination of diverse material such as speakers, a webcam, a screen and keyboard – which made it very difficult to move around the unit to different classes. Bednet approached design firm Cides for help creating a mobile, fully integrated unit.

The design needed to be compact, easy to assemble, lightweight, durable and cost-effective. The inside of the unit uses existing components such as a monitor, motherboard, speakers etc. which are mounted onto one central frame, whereas the outside is made up of aluminum sheet metal to keep the device lightweight.

We were also happy to donate several 3D-printed plastic components necessary to the design of the unit – and this combination of sheet metal and 3D-printed parts helped to keep costs low, as well as ensuring the design looked good!

We received the design for the parts and got to work making the files 3D printable with our Magics software. We used Laser Sintering to produce the parts, because this nylon powder-based technology is well-suited to creating durable, functional prototypes.

We were interested in helping Bednet because the idea behind the initiative fit so well with our own mission statement, which is essentially about using technology to create a better and healthier world.

— Bart van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise

“The new mobile unit will make it even easier for schools to accommodate children who are forced to stay home due to circumstances, and will help the children stay up to date with their education while feeling as included as possible."

Bednet has been steadily growing over the years, and has already helped 1533 children to date. Since September 1st 2015, every child in Flanders also has the right to apply for Bednet’s services. The new mobile unit was nominated for the Henry van de Velde Life Quality Award, a category which celebrates design that improves the quality of life of the user. Read more about our participation in the Henry van de Velde awards here!

Materialise is involved with several social initiatives. Learn more about them on our website, or check out the blog posts about our different projects! Or read more about Bednet here.

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