If smiles were used to measure the good that 3D printing can do - I think this one could be a winner!
After 3D printing headlines that point to the darker side of human nature in recent weeks (I’m sure you get that I’m referring to the handcuffs and the gun), how uplifting it has been today to see the story break of how 3D printing has helped one little girl by providing her with the ability to hug — as well as to play independently and to feed herself.
A Stratasys Dimension machine was the system used to create a custom robotic exoskeleton small enough to fit two year old Emma Lavelle, who has suffered with the debilitating condition, arthrogryposis multiplex congneita (AMC) since birth. According to her mother, the only part of her upper limbs she could move was her thumb. You can read the details on Personalize here.
But bascially, an exoskeleton is a medical device that allows the patient to regain some assisted movement, and although these devices have proved successful in the past with CNC processes, the traditional techniques were unable to make a device small enough for a 2 year old.
3D printing could though!
And it has improved the quality of Emma’s life — so much so, she calls the device her “magic arms”.
Like the jawbone story earlier this year and the numerous custom implants that are now possible, this story just goes to show how 3D printing, applied in the right way, can really make a difference and improve quality of life.
For me it just goes to show that the incredible technology advancements with 3D printing are (or at least can be) a truly great thing. As with anything powerful, it is how we, as humans, choose to apply that power to change lives for better or for worse. We don’t always make the right choices.
But often we do.