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3D Printable Portable Ramp
Earlier this year, Raul Krauthausen, designed these 3D printed wheelchair ramps to help wheelchair users overcome kerbs and steps into buildings where there is no disability access. Inspired by a design he had seen for a wheelchair cup holder, Raul got to work with a MakerBot Replicator 2 to invent something that would be useful to wheelchair users everywhere.
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When carpenter, Richard Van As, lost four fingers in an accident at work, he decided to get up and do something about it and whilst still in the emergency room, came up with the idea of making prosthetic fingers for himself. He worked on the project with Washington based designer Ivan Owen, documenting his journey through a Facebook page, when one day the mother of a young boy with Amniotic Band Syndrome asked if he might be able to print a prosthetic hand for her son. This opened Richard up to the possibilities Robohand could hold for people who otherwise could not afford high-end prosthetics and has since led him to launch the Robofinger and Roboarm.
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3D Printed Ekso Suit
This year, Amanda Boxtel, made history by walking tall in the first ever 3D-printed Ekso-Suit. 3D Systems’ printing and scanning technology was used to digitise an exact 3D model of Amanda’s legs and spine to produce an exoskeleton that allowed her to walk after being paralysed since 1992. Combined with mechanical controls from Ekso Bionics the suit was a groundbreaking first example of the extraordinary possibilities 3D printing holds for the human body.
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3D Printed Robotic Arm
The person behind this invention is self taught 17 year old, Easton LaChappelle. Whilst your average teen might be playing with robots in a video game, Easton was actually out there making them for the benefit of other people. Upon meeting a young girl with a prosthetic limb that cost a phenomenal $80,000, he set out to change the future of prosthetics by putting together a robotic arm using wireless sensors for a mere $500. This shows how designers and engineers are working to bridge the gap between low cost 3D printing and traditionally expensive prosthetics.
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e-NABLE Talon Hand
A range of prosthetics hands from e-NABLE have proven how 3D printing has gone from being more than just a new technology but a way for people to build communities of makers and users, who work together to create objects for people who need them. e-NABLE has done just that by providing people with ready-made designs for prosthetic hands that they can print and put together themselves. One of the most popular designs is the Talon Hand which is designed to be durable, particularly for children and features an integrated tension system.
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3D Printed Leg
One of the great things about 3D printing is the freedom to customise and create objects exactly how you want them. One young woman, Natasha Hope-Simpson, applied this notion to her own body when she set about designing a prosthetic leg for herself after losing her own in a car accident. With the help of Think Robot Studios and artist Melissa Ng, Natasha was able to choose a pattern she wanted and create a beautiful custom 3D printed prosthetic leg that showed her personality more than any traditional prosthetic could.
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Dudley the Duck's Prosthetic Leg
It is not just humans benefiting from the development of 3D printed prosthetics. Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary acquired a 3D printer to design and prototype feet and legs for abandoned ducks and geese. Dudley the duck, was one of the first animals at the sanctuary to receive an anatomically correct prosthetic after a losing his right leg as a young duckling. After several prototypes Dudley finally had a leg that let him run and play, gaining him the nickname Studley Dudley.
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Born with a disability that meant his two front legs could not grow properly, TurboRoo the puppy had great difficulty moving around freely. After several attempts to build him a cart, nothing quite worked as efficiently as his caring, vet owner had hoped. However, with the help of a Makerbot Replicator 3D printer and owner Mark Deadrick, TurboRoo now has his own set of wheels designed specifically for him which allow him to get around with ease. As the puppy grows he will need adapted versions of the cart which can designed and printed cheaply and efficiently with 3D printing technology - a goal which has already received an overwhelming amount of support on fundraising site YouCaring.com.
3D printing has really paved the way for assistive design over the last few years by offering complete customisation and precision to change the lives of those in need. This innovative approach to fixing life's problems through 3D printing has presented a range of ideas from the simplest of solutions that people can print at home, to entire exoskeletons.
These developments have enhanced lives and made the impossible seem possible for people and even animals, who otherwise would not have access to prosthetics due to cost or geography. From individuals to entire global networks, people have set their minds to making 3D printing a reality for assistive design and here are some great examples of people doing just that.