Beth, this is a great story. With the advancement of electronics and design software, the missing piece was manufacturing. As another great example of the power of 3D printed objects this is very encouraging. After all, if you can make a receiver for a gun with 3D, you should be able to make good prosthetics.
Love that last point, Naperlou. Absolutely, 3D printing is advancing to cover all ends of the spectrum in terms of manufacturing. In terms of medical technologies, it's really had an impact even beyond the manufacture of custom prosthetics. Check out our slide show on 3D printing in the medical sector.
Rob: Magic arms is actually just a pet name she gave to the prosthetic device that helps her now have control over her arms to do everyday things like play and feed herself. It is more of a term of endearment to show her enthusiasm for new mobility.
Yes, I also agree. An inspiring story about Emma that really drives home the point on how technology breakthroughs can have such a positive impact on people's lives. Since the cost of 3D printing has come down so much, I imagine that new arms could also be printed again should the current ones wear out or become damaged.
What a wonderful story. If Oscar Pistorius' performance in the Olympics taught us anything, it's that prosthetic limbs needn't be a handicap. I really do believe that technology will eliminate all disabilities by the end of this century.
It's great to see these types of advances taking place. Just in the same way that high performance cars eventually see their developments embodied in the consumer versions - I hope that these techniques eventually become available to the average consumer. What a boon to veterans, the disabled and the aging.
With prices on 3D printers coming down and with materials and other related technologies vastly improving, I do think capabilities like these will become easier and more accessible to mainstream medical practices, aiding in their adoption.
@Greg: That's actually a point I didn't spend time on in the post, but a real lifesaver for Emma's parents. There is obviously wear and tear on the device, particularly as Emma gains in mobility. With the 3D printing approach, her parents can simply contact the research/medical team and explain what part is broken (take a picture if need be) and a replacement can be easily and cheaply produced. Minimal downtime, which is a great thing for Emma.
I can see that it would be great to work in this field. I have a 4 year old grandson born without one arm - not even a shoulder. I have wondered if it would be possible to fit him with a wrap-around vest that a prosthetic arm could be attached to. The hand on his one arm has only a thumb and two stubby half fingers. This handicap is apparently due to his arm and hand being pinched off during development by the amniotic membrane. He is a very happy child who doesn't yet recognize he is so different from others and he naturally uses his feet when one hand can't complete a task. He may never need a prosthetic to get through life, but it would be something worth checking into.
@kellerbl: It sounds like there will be some great opportunities for your grandson and isn't he lucky to have a granddad that is so up on the technology to pose some suggestions. The team that developed the WREX is Dr. Tariq Rahman and designer Whitney Sample--both from the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilimington, Del. (Don't know where your grandson is)
Theorem Solutions recently announced the release of its newest software solution: Publish 3D. The program enables direct translation between CAD software and the PDF format, allowing engineers to spend more of their time doing what they do best -- creating.
The MOD-t 3D printer, from New Matter, is a low-cost printer that is easy to use and one of the cheapest yet. Cookie Caster lets a user design his or her own cookie cutters and have them made. It's the cloud at work!
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