3D-Printed Limbs Bring Hope to the Developing World

shutterstock 422151076 prosthetic arm

3D-Printed Limbs Bring Hope to the Developing World

They’re snapping together solutions. Most of the 30 million people in developing countries who need orthotic devices have long been out of luck, but 3D printing is changing that. With international funding, researchers are pioneering ways to scan stumps and print prosthetic sockets and limbs that will fit patients better than anything else they’ve worn — for less than $200. It’s not a magic solution, especially since critics complain that low-cost printers being tested in Africa have produced ill-fitting components, but for millions of amputees, it’s a promising step forward.

3D-printed satellite imager design

Description

Weirdly organic in appearance, this prototype is the first outcome of an ESA project to develop, manufacture and demonstrate an optical instrument for space with 3D printing.

A two-mirror telescope derived from the European-made Ozone Monitoring Instrument now flying on NASA’s Aura satellite, it was not so much designed as grown, with the instrument’s design requirements put through ‘topology optimisation’ software to come up with the best possible shape.

This prototype was developed for ESA by a consortium led by OHB System in Germany, with TNO in the Netherlands – original designer of Aura’s version – Fraunhofer IFAM, IABG and Materialise in Germany and SRON, the Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

This first ‘breadboard’ prototype has been printed in liquid photopolymer plastic, then spray-painted. The final version would be printed in metal instead. The project is intended to culminate in testing a working instrument in a simulated space environment.

The project is being backed through ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, to hone promising technologies to be ready for space and global markets.

Australian-made 3D-printed sternum and rib cage implanted into NY patient

An Australian-made 3D-printed sternum and rib cage has successfully been implanted into a 20-year-old New York patient who had been diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) announced on Thursday.

The 3D-printed titanium and polymer sternum and rib cage was produced by the CSIRO in partnership with Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics.

The patient, Penelope Heller, had to have her sternum removed after being diagnosed with chondrosarcoma in 2014. While the cancer was successfully removed, Heller’s replacement sternum and rib cage that was developed using off-the-shelf solutions made post-operation life painful.

In August this year, she underwent additional surgery to replace her implant with a customised sternum and partial rib cage made from 3D-printed titanium and combined with Anatomics’ PoreStar technology, which is a porous polyethylene material providing “bone-like” architecture to facilitate tissue integration, the CSIRO said.

“3D printing allows for advanced personalisation of implants so they uniquely fit their recipients, as well as rapid manufacture, which could mean the difference between life and death for a patient waiting for surgery,” the Australian government-backed organisation added.

The organisation claims it is the first time this technology has been used in the United States.

The CSIRO and Anatomics had previously partnered to produce sternum and rib cage prosthetics for a 54-year-old sarcoma patient in Spain in 2015. The CSIRO said at the time the patient’s surgical team knew the surgery would be difficult due to the complicated geometries involved in the chest cavity, and decided the customisable 3D-printed sternum and rib cage was the best option.

Once the prosthetics were made, it was sent to Spain and implanted into the patient. 12 days after the surgery, the patient was discharged and recovered well, the CSIRO then said.

That operation followed on from the production of a 3D-printed titanium heel bone that prevented an Australian cancer patient from having his leg amputated in 2014.

A 61-year-old British man received 3D-printed titanium and polymer sternum in 2016 after his sternum was removed due to a rare infection. The CSIRO said it was the first time a titanium sternum combined with a synthetic polymer has been used to replace bone, cartilage, and tissue in a patient.

Late last year, Brisbane-based and Australian-listed Oventus Medical announced opening a new 3D printing facility at the CSIRO’s Clayton, Victoria campus to produce its O2Vent device — a customisable, 3D-printed titanium mouthguard designed to ensure optimal airflow and reduce the effects of snoring for sleep apnoea sufferers.

Oventus had been developing O2Vent for almost three years prior to the opening of its 3D printing facility, and an initial prototype of the O2Vent, which completed successful clinical trials, was 3D-printed at CSIRO’s Lab22 facility.

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Ricoh boosts productivity by replacing metal tools with 3D-printed lightweight tools

Japanese office automation equipment manufacturer Ricoh Industries is replacing traditional metal tooling with customized, lightweight 3D printed jigs and fixtures for its Production Technology Center assembly line – improving manufacturing efficiency while minimizing manual tooling errors. The assembly line, located in Miyagi prefecture in northeastern Japan, is dedicated to manufacturing large-format printers.

Assembling an electronic component using a 3D printed fixture produced in anti-static ABS plastic on the Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer improves manufacturing efficiency (Photo: Ricoh)
Ricoh’s 3D printed jigs and fixtures boost assembly line productivity. These manufacturing aids were produced on the Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer using ABS plastic (Photo: Ricoh)

By producing the tools in durable acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) thermoplastic resin on a Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, Ricoh is able to customize each tool precisely according to the part geometry while reducing the tool’s weight. This has enabled Ricoh to accelerate the manufacturing process in which an operator typically handles more than 200 different part types each day.

Ricoh develops and manufactures high quality office equipment such as copiers, fax machines and projectors. The competitive nature of the electronics industry led the company to look for new ways to accelerate product launches while maintaining or lowering its production costs.

“Because we are producing an enormous number of parts, it takes a lot of time and effort to identify the right jigs and fixtures for each one. This manual process has become even lengthier as the number of components grows, requiring that an operator examine the shape, orientation and angle of each part before taking out a tool and placing it back in its original fixture. The operators were occasionally annoyed with the many different tools, and we were looking for a way to accelerate tooling to match our manufacturing schedule,” said Taizo Sakaki, Senior Manager of Business Development at Ricoh Group. “Now with Stratasys 3D printing, we are able to customize the tools according to the part and produce them on demand which is helping us restructure and modernize our production process.”

Prior to 3D printing, Ricoh had to outsource machine cut tools which could take two weeks or more. Now, Ricoh’s operators can determine the shape and geometry of a fixture that corresponds to its associated part through 3D CAD software and 3D print it in one day. This leaves the workers more time to attend to other stations. Moreover, new hires can now adapt to the tools and the workstations in two days when previously a new worker had to spend at least one week to learn all the tools. The jigs and fixtures are also much lighter so that workers can use them for a prolonged period of time without fatigue.

“The Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printing solution enables us to realize designs that are difficult for conventional cutting methods to replicate, such as hollow interiors, curves or complex shapes. The ABS material used to 3D print the tools is very strong and anti-static, which is important due to the large number of electronic components we are assembling, adding to the advantages