How designing with lattices can make sextech products more accessible

How designing with lattices can make sextech products more accessible

Lattices occur throughout nature; from the honeycomb patterns in beehives to the internal structures of human bones. These repeated cellular patterns come in a variety of configurations and provide both strength and flexibility to lightweight materials. It’s no wonder then that architects and engineers have applied the bio-inspired mechanical properties of lattices in the construction of bridges or buildings for centuries. So what does any of this have to do with sextech and accessibility? At TouchBot we've leveraged the same mechanical properties in the design of our ergonomic reach extension system to use with our toys and dilators. We even named it Lattice! 

Here are top ways that designing with lattices makes products more accessible

Maximizes strength to weight ratio

Lattices allow you to have fine control over the mechanical behavior of a material, meaning structures can have locally specialized mechanical properties (i.e. stiff in one area, flexible in another area).

Maximized strength to weight ratio also means our extension handles are strong yet extremely lightweight. This is particularly important when designing sextech products with accessibility in mind as folks with disabilities who may live with limited strength in their arms or hands often find traditional wand vibes to be too bulky or heavy to easily operate. 

The lattice design our extension handle uses is based on Graphene, a hexagonal, two dimensional arrangement of carbon atoms (picture a hexagon wire fence). Graphene has the highest tensile strength of any tested material so by mimicking this structure with a hexagonal beam configuration at the macroscale, we can maximize tensile strength in sheet or tube-like structures. When we modeled Lattice in CAD, we started with a simple tube structure and then used the visual programming language and environment Grasshopper to replace the tube with a graphene-like hexagonal lattice wrapped around the tube surface. The results substantially reduced the overall weight of the original structure while also improving its durability.

Enhances shock absorption

Certain lattice structures can be employed to transmit or dampen vibrations with high efficiency. Imagine you wanted a product that concentrates vibration in one area (wink) but prevents that vibration from traveling to another area (such as your hands), a specific type of lattice structure (such as a gyroid) can be made out of soft materials for extremely high vibration dampening efficiency. So a gyroid between your vibration source and your hands would keep a maximum amount of the energy from the vibrations near the motor and prevent it from traveling to your hands. For folks with chronic pain, vibrations in a toy handle can make holding the product uncomfortable so implementing a structure with enhanced shock absorption properties was particularly important to ensure that our toys were designed with accessibility as the guiding principle.

Reduces material use

Lattices allow us to remove non-essential elements from a design which reduces the overall materials use and cost to manufacture. By 3D printing our Lattice handles on-demand and in-house, we avoid the need for high minimum orders that would be ordinarily outsourced to a conventional injection molding manufacturer. This not only gives us a smaller environmental footprint but it makes the price of our products more accessible to disabled folks who predominantly live under extreme income restrictions to maintain essential Medicaid benefits. Sexual wellness should not be considered a luxury, so we’re committed to maintaining an affordable price point that keeps our product ecosystem financially accessible to our community.