3D Technology Lends a Face to ALS

Megan Kessler

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Image credit: Josh Harker 3D Artist

As we approach the first anniversary of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – the largest and most successful ALS fundraising event in history – I can’t help but reflect on the impact each individual can have on furthering a cause.  Fellow BC alum Pete Frates set off a social media domino effect when the first ice-cold bucket of water was poured in his name in mid-2013.  By July 2014, you couldn’t visit Facebook without a challenge-related video appearing in your feed. The campaign raised $115 million before the close of the year – and it all started with one man.

As PR practitioners, we have the unique opportunity to work with the people and the companies who are doing great things in support of humanity.  One of those companies is Fuel3D, UK-based startup and maker of SCANIFY, a point-and-shoot 3D scanner that can transform real-world objects into printable 3D scans in under a second, opening up a flood of new possibilities for 3D industries. 

One of my favorite applications of Fuel3D’s technology comes on the heels of an creative partnership our team at PAN helped to forge between Fuel3D, renowned 3D artist Josh Harker and Artist Lend Support, a non-profit, fine art website created to support ALS research. 

In an effort to raise awareness and funds for people living with ALS, Fuel3D teamed up with Artists Lend Support founder Brian Fender to host the first-ever art gallery featuring the works of artists effected by the disease. The gallery, which was unveiled at the New York Design Center in April, featured a one-of-a-kind 3D sculpture created by Brian, Josh and Fuel3D as its centerpiece. 

The piece is made up of a montage of facial scans, including those of Fender and his supporters, all taken using Fuel3D’s SCANIFY. Created to represent the impact supporters can have on the lives of people living with ALS and the pursuit of a cure, the sculpture raised $2,500 for Cambridge-based ALS Therapy Development Institute, a nonprofit biotechnology organization developing effective treatments for ALS. The larger gallery raised nearly $30,000 for the cause.

This collaboration serves as a great reminder of the social impact the 3D companies, in particular, can have.  From 3D-printed prosthetics to foods, 3D innovation has the potential to change human lives and alter industries – like healthcare, automotive and robotics – for the better.  With its roots in the medical field – Fuel3D’s software was first developed to assist in the creation of prosthetics and burn masks – social applications are a natural extension of the company’s technology. But I’d argue that every company in the 3D space has a similar opportunity to align itself with a worthy cause and drive positive change.

As the titans of 3D industry continue to drive technology innovation, we will be watching for those companies that are making both an economic and a human impact this year.  These are the stories that consumers love to hear and that media love to tell. They are also the stories that we love to share as PR professionals, because they help to humanize the exciting work the world’s most innovative industries are doing. 

What is your favorite social impact story coming out of the 3D technology sector?

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