Television shows and movies have always amazed people showing depicted scenes where the press of a button or words spoken on a computer produced ready made objects like weapons, cars, etc. With the advancement of the 3D printing technology it seems that such unusual happenings might indeed come true. This technology has helped manufacturers and other firms to create prototypes by inputting digital data that ultimately gets converted to a physical object. The 3D printing technology is based on an additive principle where layer upon layer is added until the object is complete. Different materials might be used like resin, polymers, metals and various other substances which depend upon the printer as well as the manufacturing industry involved. The advancements made in this field have been substantial and rapid that has opened new doors of opportunities.
Recently Stratasys made use of the 3D printing technology to help a girl with an artificial arm. Emma Lavelle, 4 year old girl was born with a critical disease Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) which leads to improper muscle growth and movement. However, with the tailor made exoskeleton for the first time in her life, the girl was able to eat on her own. The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) was first spotted by Emma’s mother at a family conference. Developed by Whitney Sample and Tariq Rahman, the WREX seemed too big for this little girl and they needed to come up with something innovative. Emma was provided with a custom body jacket that came along with lightweight 3D printed plastic appendages that assisted in voluntary movement of her arms. Reports state that there are presently fifteen more children in the hospital wearing the same kind of lightweight vests.
With the help of the additive manufacturing technology, highly skilled creators came up with the lightweight prosthetic for Emma. 3D printing has helped the manufacturers to customize the vest according to the requirements for Emma and helped her with a new life. The use of 3D printing technology has opened new doors for the development of pediatric prosthetics as per the famous design magazine, Core 77. The main benefit of this technology is that it helps to come up with personalized solutions to tackle even the toughest of challenges. The 3D printing technology is helping humans to break some of the greatest barriers in the field of healthcare and science.
Gone are the days when printers were only used for purpose of printing papers. The possibilities offered by 3D printing technology are immense and huge. Engineers from all over the globe are able convert their ideas to reality and help improve the lives of people. As newer possibilities are offered by this hi-tech technology its impact outside design realms and traditional manufacturing continue to grow. It is believed that any sort of problem involving three dimensional objects can be solved better and faster with the help of 3D printing technology. This technology is getting increased attention from manufacturing firms to the army because of its wide scope of possibilities.