Designer Uses ZMorph 2.0 SX Multitool 3D Printer to Develop Multifunctional Walker Prototype

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zmorph-logoWe’ve written about biomedical engineer and 3D designer Eliza Wrobel before, when she used 3D printer manufacturer ZMorph‘s 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer a few months ago to create this really cool revolving 3D printed bookshelf, just months after the printer itself had been announced. Before that, Wrobel put the ZMorph 2.0 S Hybrid printer through its paces by making an orthosis for a man suffering from tetraplegia. Now she’s back again with an ingenious and very helpful prototype: a multifunctional walker, created using the 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer.

zmorph-multifunctional-walker-with-printerWhen a person struggles with limb disabilities or old age, many times they will use a walker to help them move around their homes more easily, and even for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, walkers aren’t always much help when it comes to outdoor activities on uneven surfaces, or when you need to be able to transport something. There aren’t always inexpensive medical solutions that can help in these situations, but with new tools and machines being developed every day, and people like Wrobel around who want to help, this can change. Wrobel wanted to help people with disabilities stay active, and decided to take another look at the often-used walker design, to see if she could make it more functional.

multifunctional-walker-usesWrobel’s multifunctional prototype walker still has the basic functionalities of a regular walker, including a regulated height, but with some helpful additions, like a fitted drink cup holder and easy-to-use hand brakes near the top. It also has a few switchable add-on functions, like a baby seat if someone wants to take their grandchild for a stroll, which can also be switched out for a small shopping basket.

Wrobel said, “Using ZMorph 2.0 SX I was able to materialize and prove my idea for a multifunctional walker that could help disabled people in performing every day tasks.”

The prototype walker has over 100 parts, and was built using straps, screws, a handmade Batman cushion (my favorite part!), wire, and 3D printed elements. Most were printed with different types of plastic filament: silver ABS was used for the frame, because it’s easy to clean the support materials off of the tubing, and the more durable parts of the walker were made with yellow and black PLA parts. Wrobel used black rubber-like Flex filament to create the brakes, wheels, and arm pads at the top.

closeup-multifunctional-walkerThis prototype model was designed using the ZMorph 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer and ZMorph’s multitool digital fabrication Voxelizer software, both of which 3DPrint.com had the chance to see in action at the CES 2017 show in January. The design model was created in 1:2 scale in order to prove that the idea of a multifunctional walker is, in fact, feasible, and could one day be mass produced.

zmorph-walker-3d-printed-wheelThe prototype is pretty fragile though, so it can really only be used as a showcase model or proof of concept, to be rolled out during business and investor meetings, trade shows, and design meetings. The walker model would need some more work to make it into a functional, test-ready prototype, but luckily, this work could be completed and 3D printed using the ZMorph 2.0 SX. This 3D printer is an advanced rapid prototyping device, with interchangeable toolheads enabling tasks like laser engraving, CNC milling and cutting, thick paste extruding, and one- and two-material 3D printing. In addition, it supports a variety of printing materials, so the designer can pick materials for prototypes that have similar properties to those that will be used for the final product.

According to ZMorph, the prototype multifunctional walker is also “a fine example of how 3D printing can be used to reinvent and innovate in product development. Relatively low costs and short production time give additional advantage especially to young creative minds wanting to help the ones in need.”

Discuss in the ZMorph forum at 3DPB.com.

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