…We’ve seen many low cost prostheses as a result of 3D printing, such as the arm and hand developed by teenager Easton LaChappelle, the “Robohand” and the JaipurKnee, all of which have the potential to make prostheses more accessible.
However, industrial designer William Root’s Exo-Prosthetic leg also acknowledges the importance of beauty in prosthesis design. Root believes the unaesthetic appearance of prosthetic limbs is the result of the flawed and outdated process of producing them.
His Exo-Prosthetic leg looks to modern technologies to streamline the manufacturing process. By using a combination of 3D scanning, 3D printing and 3D modeling software, Root believes the entire process can be automated to create a customizable, affordable and beautiful product.
The patient’s residual limb and remaining intact limb, if present, are first scanned to create a highly precise 3D virtual model, allowing the anatomy to match up within fractions of a millimeter.
During this process the FitSocket technology, developed by the Biomechatronics lab at MIT, also captures leg tissue properties allowing a better fit – and therefore increased comfort – between the residual limb and socket.
The scans of the intact leg, residual limb and off-the-shelf prosthetic mechanisms are then combined in a 3D mesh model to create the raw model of the prosthesis.
To reduce weight, the limb is hollowed out forming an exoskeleton. The surface pattern of the exoskeleton can be customized with patterns and colors to suit the client, or it can later be used as a scaffolding for a silicone sleeve.
The finished model is sent to a 3D printer and printed out of titanium, an extremely durable, lightweight and biocompatible metal. Titanium dust particles are fused together using laser sintering….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
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