Annika Emmert has something in common with Winter the dolphin – the inspiration for the Dolphin Tale movies. The 10-year-old Emmert was born without her right hand and a portion of her arm, and Winter lost her tail when she became tangled in a crab trap. Now both have received groundbreaking, 3D printed prosthetic devices to make their lives more comfortable.
The man behind the scenes in making sure the Lady and the Dolphin have what they need, Albert Manero, is the Executive Director of Limbitless Solutions, a volunteer 3D printing prosthetic manufacturing group. Manero is a current Fulbright Scholar studying for a Doctoral Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and he leads a team which develops and distributes new limbs.
Manero and Limbitless Solutions, based at the University of Central Florida, create custom, 3D printed arms for children. He and a group of friends and classmates can design and deliver a functioning, 3D printed arm in around eight weeks and at the startling cost of just $350.
Emmert, recently took a trip to see Winter the dolphin – Emmert is a big fan of the movies – and what she thought was a private poolside visit with Winter turned into something much more. Manero and his team handed Emmert a cooler she assumed was filled with tasty fish treats for Winter, opened it up and discovered a new robotic arm.
And it was a big deal indeed. Emmert enjoys riding horses, playing soccer and singing, but without a comfortable right arm, she couldn’t do another one of her activities, play the guitar.
“This is what this is all about,” said Michael Gonzales, a member of the Limbitless team. “And we want to do more.”
Emmert has worn a variety of prostheses over the years, but they all seemed to fall short when it came to smooth movement or relative comfort, and while some of them allowed her to hold her guitar pick and play, they also caused her pain.
The new arm was created using Stratasys 3D printing technology, and aside from the very low cost of such arms, it also features several other advantages. It’s lightweight, causes very little strain on Emmert’s elbow and let’s her hold a hair brush with ease. The hand operates by using electrodes triggered by the muscles in Emmert’s own arm, allowing her to open, close and control it fairly easily.
The arm is about 14 inches long, weighs less than 3 pounds, and each of the modular parts of the device can be upgraded in size as Emmert grows. In total, the arm took only about 40 hours to print, and judging by the smile on Emmert’s face was well worth it!
Are you aware of any other projects which use 3D printing technology to help people with physical challenges? Let us know in the 3D Printed Prosthetics forum thread on 3DPB.com.
You May Also Like
3D Systems Introduces Stacking Feature for Rapid 3D Printing Production
Despite the fact that its most recent CEO, Vyomesh Joshi, has headed for retirement, 3D Systems is continuing in his vision for vertically integrated industrial 3D printing. The company has...
Scott Dunham: SmarTech Industry Forecasts for Metal and Medical/Dental 3D Printing
The 2020 Additive Manufacturing Strategies (AMS) event ended earlier this week in Boston. The summit was focused on the business of 3D printing in medical, dental, and metals, so it...
Prodways Group on the Move: Sales to BASF, DSM
Prodways Group, a French maker of 3D printers, has announced the sale of its technology to two leading chemical companies, BASF and DSM, as well as a third, unnamed French...
3D Printing News Briefs: September 2, 2019
In this edition of 3D Printing News Briefs, we’ve got stories to share about a new material, a case study, and an upcoming symposium. Liqcreate has released a new 3D...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.