For the past two years Ritesh Sachdeva '25 has used his 3D printing acumen to partner with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Kids at Heart Foundation to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cardiac patients. Since last summer he has sold his 3D printed creations as a fundraiser, donating $1,000 that was used on January 16th to distribute meals to the families and patients who were admitted to the hospital's cardiology unit. We asked Ritesh about his work and how he got involved with CHOA.
Why did you choose the Kids at Heart Foundation of Atlanta as a cause you wanted to support and how did you initially connect with the organization?
One of my first 3D prints was a phone/tablet stand that I gifted to several of my friends and my grandparents. During the pandemic, with increasing use of Zoom and similar platforms for communication via video, my gifts were brought into practical use, and I received great feedback from the users. I also learned that the use of telemedicine in healthcare had increased during this time, so I decided to make several of these phone/tablet stands and donate to a clinic to give to their patients for future use in their telehealth visits. I was encouraged to see that I could make a meaningful contribution using my 3D printing skills, so I started looking for other venues to donate to. I learned about the Kids at Heart Foundation at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the support it provides to pediatric heart patients and their families. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to use my 3D printing skills to bring a smile to the patients who were admitted in the hospital and their families.
How have you worked with the organization so far and do you have any upcoming plans?
The director of this program, Ms. Alison Mueller, has been incredibly supportive and has given me great feedback on how the families have loved the gifts I donated last year during the holiday season, American Heart Month (February), and St. Patrick’s Day. I was also able to host a 3D printing booth at last year’s Zoo Atlanta event to educate children and their families about 3D printing, especially those who were interested in STEM fields. 3D printing has not only allowed me to help cardiac patients in a small way, but it also helped motivate others to be interested in science and innovation.
How did you come up with the idea of selling 3D printed items as a fundraiser?
After working with CHOA’s Kids at Heart Foundation for months, I learned more about their cause and how all of their monetary donations go toward supporting young patients with a congenital heart defect (CHD) and their families. The donations also fund their organization’s year-round events, such as their annual Zoo Atlanta event for spreading CHD awareness, where I hosted a 3D Printing booth. After seeing a friend of mine make money online from selling his unique 3D prints, I came up with the idea that I could fundraise for the Kids at Heart foundation by selling my 3D printed items that could be brought into day-to-day use or given as gifts.
What kind of items do you produce/sell?
Using Tinkercad, I started out by designing all kinds of items ranging from board games, like Tic-Tac-Toe and Chess, to household objects, such as coasters and desk organizers. Wanting to generate more complex designs, I eventually began utilizing more complex software like Blender, which allowed me to create more intricate and appealing objects, such as fancy vases. During my fundraiser, I sold different types of bowls, vases, desk organizers, and device stands compatible with phones and iPads/tablets.
What are some of the challenges of 3D printer production?
In the design phase, a major challenge is building the design in a way to allow smooth layer-by-layer printing. Mechanical capabilities of the printer must be considered, especially when dealing with complex features.
Finding durable and consistent plastic (PLA) for the printer’s use often warrants experimentation and I tested several brands of PLA before I settled on the right one. The printer needs to be regularly maintained and cleaned. The bed of the printer needs to be leveled to avoid creating uneven surfaces of the product. Prior to printing, one must calibrate the nozzle and extruder to avoid gaps, over-extrusion, and poor layer adhesion. If these steps are neglected, the resulting products can have many defects.
What do you see yourself pursuing in the future?
I am thinking about pursuing Biomedical Engineering, and I hope to employ 3D printing and the design principles behind it for medical applications, such as creating custom prosthetics and implants.
- upper school