Not too long ago, I happened to glance at a social media post offering up typical reading materials for young men and women today, with a girls’ publication showing off makeup and hair and heartthrobs, while the subject matter geared toward young males seemed to revolve completely around outdoor sports. With a caption that insinuated the sexes don’t seem to have evolved much, I thought to myself well, that that surely depends on who you are hanging with these days, doesn’t it?
And if you’ve been keeping an eye on the buzz regarding the upcoming Paralympics, to be held in Rio September 7-18, then you are well aware that some very talented young women and men are out there raising the bar when it comes to physical fitness and serious competition. And, perhaps, how 3D printing is being used in this year’s games, from two different prostheses we’ve already seen to 3D printed racing wheelchairs.
While some may say women have obstacles and challenges placed in front of them no matter what when it comes to succeeding in a ‘man’s world,’ imagine doing so after suffering a debilitating bout with bacterial meningitis as Veronica Yoko Plebani did, suffering impairments to both hands and feet. And then translate this to going on to success in the worlds of both snowboarding and canoeing.
Enjoying and excelling at sports that are difficult (to say the least!) for many of us without any visible impairments, Veronica seems only to have grown stronger from health challenges, competing at the Sochi Paralympic games 2014 (snowboarding) and now in Rio for canoeing—a sport she just took up in 2012 as she lived in close proximity to a river and became interested in the sport competitively.
To give her best performance with added reinforcement to her hand, the Italian athlete worked with Marco Avaro, a Biomedical Engineer who also is part of the WASPmedical team, working with the WASP organization we’ve followed many times—and most recently in regards to their massive ambitions to 3D print the entire village of Shamballa in Italy.
Along with creating a 3D printed hand brace for Veronica, another famed Italian athlete just visited Avaro as well. Fabrizio Passetti is preparing for the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship to be held in La Jolla, California from September 24-27, and had a 3D printed leg prosthetic made for the competition.
“I’ve made a hand brace for Veronica,” says Avaro. “Fabrizio instead needs a carbon fiber prosthesis for high-level performance in extreme conditions.”
Passetti explained in a recent interview after competing that he lost his leg as a teenager.
“I had a very bad motorcycle accident when I was 17 years old, the guard rail at the roadside had torn my whole leg and the artery was lucky to survive, then the infection has taken over and won the leg. The day of my 18th birthday, my doctors had to take this drastic decision. It was inevitable,” said Passetti.
A pioneer in adaptive surfing, Passetti is one of many to have overcome what would seem like impossible odds—not to mention discouragement from doctors regarding going back into the sea to do what he loves most.
With the help of Avaro, both Italian athletes are able to compete with as much added strength as possible within regulations. The prosthetics were created at the Del Bene Fabio orthopedic lab in Trieste. Using the DeltaWASP 40 70 and DeltaWASP 20 40 3D printers, the Italian engineer has made great strides in the 3D printing of prostheses using high-quality filaments by TreeD Filaments. The team sees the 3D printing they are performing today as ‘extremely accurate and sophisticated,’ as they are able to print objects with tolerances up to 0.2 mm.
The team points out also that the 3D printing of prosthetics is complex as they are medical devices, must be made according to regulations, and are only available through prescription. Many tests must be performed, and the filaments themselves must be certified too.
As for the amazing athletes he has been working with, Avaro said:
“They are enthusiastic about results and they embody the extraordinary results we can obtain with 3D printing.”
See a recent video here also as Passetti shows off his 3D printed prosthetic.
“Its peculiarity is to homogenize prints, making a strong and tenacious product. I’m very satisfied,” says Avaro. “It’s a bulldog.”
The WASPmedical Group works to offer development and production in areas such as process and post production, biocompatible materials, shapes scanning, body/prosthesis matching, and more. They work with medical professionals and experts who are familiar with such materials and production, and the WASP High-Tech Manufacturing Company supports the team, sponsoring regular meetings that are held once every two months and open to everyone. Discuss this topic further over in the 3D Printed Prosthetics for Adaptive Athletes forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: WASP; Nouvelle Vague]