Saturday, August 4, 2012

3D-printed 'exoskeleton' enables use of arms

Printing objects in 3D has rapidly become popular in the last couple of years. A wide variety of objects can be printed, including synthetic things that are relevant for the medical world. Now, a printing company called Stratasys made an 'exoskeleton' that enabled a little girl to use her arms properly. As demonstrated in a video, the plastic print made her cope with a disease called arthrogryposis.

Printing
Basically, the print consists of a plastic structure that is wrapped around both arms, and helps the little girl with moving her arms, something made difficult by her disease. Because the plastic seems to function as an external bone structure, it is called an exoskeleton, named after animals that have their skeleton on the outside. Stratasys, a 3D-printing company made a video showing the device being used by the two-year-old girl.
Other examples
3D printers can also make stuff to help with other disabilities. Stratasys has already been involved with many other projects, but scientists all over the world have taken an interest in 3D printing. And such printers do not just create plastic stuff: scientists already showed that it is possible to print livers, or create bone structures. The possibilities seem endless. 

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