OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more


Recent contributions


Contribution list

Custom 3D printed stairs that fit over existing stairs, making the steps bigger, providing more grip and improving visibility for elders

Custom 3D printed stairs that fit over existing stairs, making the steps bigger, providing more grip and improving visibility for elders

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan


(6) View all

Recent comments

(3) View all

Michael commented on Stair Safe

Yeah, that would be great actually, and if we each tried different print settings and support structure designs we would come up with a feasible design much faster.


Michael commented on Stair Safe

Hi Kate

The storyboard I attached should help clear some of those questions up. Essentially all that is needed is an industrial 3D printer and website, and these would be run by at least one engineer and healthcare practitioner. When they receive measurements and a photo of the house in question, they can scale the digital file of the stairs accordingly. Some people might want to make each step bigger by an inch, and to reduce the height of each step. This is possible if the photo shows that there is enough space at the end of the stairs without causing obstruction to other rooms or passageways. Once the digital file is adjusted accordingly, it is 3D printed and delivered to the customer in parts, easy for non-skilled assembly. The tech is nothing new, it already exists in CAD packages like SolidWorks, which most engineers are already familiar with.

Ideally the the measurements would be taken by the caregiver or a family member of the elderly person in question. They would also take a photo of the general space so that the engineer/healthcare practitioner could know how much space they have to work with. They could use a measuring tape or a similar app. They could also use a Spirit Level/ Bubble app to ensure that each step is horizontal and uniform. If any of the existing steps are not uniform, the digital file can be manipulated to ensure that the new steps are uniform, making them even safer.

In terms of scaling the business; this does not need to start local. The product is demand-driven and, ideally, does not require professionals to measure or install anything. An order is received online, a custom product is produced for that individual and shipped to them in parts that can be easily assembled.


Michael commented on StairWalker

Hi Robert

Really cool idea and very nice illustration. I have two questions:

1. From doing research for this challenge I read several times that people are more likely to fall when trying to carry something up or down a stairs. Could your idea facilitate this? Perhaps with an optional tray or something?

2. Have you thought about how it will attach on to different hand rail styles and shapes? You know how some have a rectangular profile, some a rounded square, some circular, etc.

Best of luck with it :)