3D Printing is Changing the Lives of the Injured

Amanda Boxtel was skiing in Aspen when she had a very freakish fall that resulted in her performing an involuntary somersault. The accident caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down. This meant that her doctor had to break the news that she would never walk again.

Despite her paralysis and the prognosis, a collaboration involving Ekso Bionics resulted in the 3D printer being used to do something quite unique and that was to create a hybrid 3D printed bionic suit. This suit allowed Amanda to walk and stand tall as she walked through a Singularity University-hosted event in Budapest.

Amanda dreamed for years that she would be able to walk again. She wasn’t sure how that would happen, but she knew it would happen. What she didn’t know is that she would be making history when she did so in the first ever 3D printed suit made by Ekso. It was customized to fit just her body.

In order to ensure the fit was perfect for Amanda, the 3DS team turned to 3D scanning technology to digitize Amanda’s spine, shins, and thighs so they could create a three-dimensional base that would be the foundation of the shapes of the assemblies. Ekso Bionics provided mechanical controls and actuators that were then integrated into the more fluid components that were created by the 3D printer. This is what created the suit.

For Amanda, the project represents a victory in the realm of technology and human creativity. The two came together to restore her authentic functionality in a design that is both beautiful and fashionable.

When 3D printing technology saw its roots in 1983, the vision was one that was huge. No one thought such a thing could become a reality and now it is slated to change the lives of individuals who have been injured and given prognoses that tell them that they will never be the same. In Amanda’s case, she and Esko Bionics have proven that anything is possible.

In addition to the many devices that 3DS – a pioneer in 3D technology – has developed, the world is on its way to becoming a bit less two-dimensional and more three-dimensional. From handheld 3D scanners to being able to create a 3D photograph, it is going to be interesting to see how far this technology goes, especially since it has now entered the world of medicine and is expected to continue moving forward.