I’ve been a skeptic of 3D printing, thinking of it as primary a novelty niche item with some possibilities in 3D prototyping. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, allows for the creation of three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. The process creates an object by producing successive layers of material.
Here’s a creative application of the 3D printing technology which is truly amazing and heart warming.
Using 3D printing, a Delaware hospital team has created a mobile plastic exoskeleton which they call a WREX device, for 2 year old Emma Lavelle. Emma was born with the rare disease, AMC (arthrogryposis multiplex congenita). This condition leaves her joints stiff and muscles underdeveloped, effecting her ability to lift her arms without support.
“Without the 3D printer, we would not be in a position we’re in with these younger kids, making them a WREX device that can go with them,” Tariq Rahman, mechanical engineer and head of pediatric engineering and research at Delaware’s Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, adding in an interview with CNET that “3D printing is great because we can make these in a couple of days. With a metal one, machining takes longer.”
The 3D printed exoskeleton supplies the support she needs to allow her to achieve tasks other 2 year olds would consider routine.
Emma calls them her “magic arms.”