Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Shiro Studio’s 3D Printed Walking Stick is Both Attractive and Comfortable

ST Medical Devices

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Many people have to rely on walking sticks to get around, due to injury, illness or advanced age. Very few people, if any, however, are happy about relying on walking sticks. They can certainly be something to celebrate if you’re recovering from an injury and have improved enough to move forward from a wheelchair or crutches to a simple walking stick, but there’s often still frustration about having to depend on something beyond yourself to move around. There’s a stigma about walking sticks and canes, too, which tend to be associated with age and infirmity.

London-based Shiro Studio is an architectural design practice that designs more than just buildings – it has produced watches, bottle openers, art installations and, yes, a walking stick. The ENEA walking stick is a creative, stylish walking stick that was designed to be comfortable for users, both to use and to carry. The 3D printed stick was designed as something that users can be proud to carry, a fashion statement rather than a sign of limitation.

The ENEA walking stick is attractive, with a sleek black finish and an elegant design. It has a three-axis handle that rests comfortably in the user’s hand, and also has the added benefit of being able to rest upright on the floor without any additional support so that users can engage in other activities without worrying about the stick falling over. Many conditions that require a walking stick can also limit a person’s ability to bend over, so a walking stick that doesn’t topple over is important. It also features a twiglike protrusion near one end so that it can be hooked onto desks, tables or counters.

The ENEA stick concept was designed by Andrea Morgante, who founded Shiro Studio in 2009. Not only the outside of the stick is carefully designed – a lot of thought and effort went into its inside, as well. MHOX Design, along with engineer Vincenzo Reale of Arup, used a generative design process to develop a porous internal structure that mimics trabecular bone tissue.

“I have always been fascinated to develop medical design,” said Morgante. “For many years whilst studying architecture, I volunteered as an emergency ambulance medical technician. This experience exposed me to the functional beauty of many devices on board ambulances. Since those times I have always looked for opportunities to improve user experience of healthcare aids through mindful design.”

The porous internal structure allows the walking stick to be lightweight yet sturdy, as does its 3D printed construction. Those particular characteristics – sturdiness and light weight – are vital to any assistive device, which users rely on to act as extensions of themselves. It’s hard to find a balance between cumbersome and flimsy, but 3D printing allows for the creation of complex structures that enable devices to be both reliable and easy to carry around. That’s one reason why so many medical professionals, as well as individuals, have been turning to the technology for the development and manufacture of assistive devices.

It definitely doesn’t hurt that the ENEA walking stick is nice to look at, too. Designers like those at Shiro Studio have been helping people to see, more and more, that just because something is medically necessary doesn’t mean that it has to be ugly, and 3D printing has resulted in easy creation of prosthetics, back braces and other devices that are as stylish as they are comfortable, and that can even be personalized by the wearer. If tricky things like scoliosis braces can be made more pleasant by 3D printing, then why not walking sticks, too? Share your thoughts in the 3D Printed Walking Stick forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: Shiro Studio / H/T: Dezeen]

 

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