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.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.