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article image3D Printed wheelchairs and other advances announced

By Tim Sandle     Jun 26, 2016 in Technology
3-D printing (additive printing) continues to advance, with the latest round of innovations including a 3-D printed wheelchair. Digital Journal takes a look at the latest 3-D printing news.
A key advance with 3-D printing is the ability to create medical devices tailored to particular patients, a move away from generic, mass-produced items (a topic that trends high on Twitter.) One example is the 3-D printed wheelchair. Models designed with individual patients in mind are being offered by designer Benjamin Hubert, who has set up a company called Layer.
Layer’s new product is the "made-to-measure” GO wheelchair, which is adaptable to different forms of disabilities and for wheelchair bound patients with different lifestyle needs. The chairs are created from biometric maps of each patient. The data is inputted into a computer, and the digital conversion is used to devise a program for the 3-D printer.
The wheelchairs also offer several innovations designed to help the user. These include a seat rendered from a semi-transparent resin and thermoplastic polyurethane plastic. This is to give improved shock-absorption. A second feature is that the foot bay is manufactured from titanium.
Further features are shown in the following video:
In terms of new applications, Derek Mathers, who works for Worrell Design, outlines the following vision as to the promises that 3-D printing presents for the future of healthcare:
“A village in Haiti needs to provide umbilical cord clamps for pregnant mothers, but cannot afford a 10,000-unit minimum purchase order. An orthopedic surgeon, sick of long, arduous ACL repair procedures identifies the need for a complex tool to simplify and accelerate surgery. A Chinese man diagnosed with a rare sacral cancer needs a bespoke, durable implant to replace the tumorous bone matter once removed.”
Another 3-D health innovation is a cranial/craniofacial device made by BioArchitects. This device is intended to be used to repair defects in non-load-bearing bones in the head and face. The implant is fixed to the skull using self-tapping titanium screws.
Meanwhile, 3-D printing is attracting considerable investment. For example, Google has invested $100 million in a printer called Carbon. This printer makes use of ultra high-performance urethanes. Furthermore, Hewlett Packard has divided its $110 billion business into two divisions, with one looking at 3-D printing applications.
More about 3D printing, Printing, medical device, Medicine
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