Using 3D Printing to change the world
When it comes to humanitarian acts, 3D Printing is leading the waySuch is the case with Limitless Solutions, a non-profit organization composed of various Innovators, Designers, and Engineers who use 3D Printing to create bionic prosthetics for people with disabilities. While there are other companies in the prosthetic business, there are few which believe so strongly in the provision of bionic solutions to children.
How can bionics be produced low-cost?
The whole premise of the Limibitless Solutions team is to create low-cost, but highly efficient, 3D Printed solutions. In the past, this has posed a challenge. First, there is the process of designing the model to match the individual. Then there is the robotics which need to be integrated into the design. Finally, the physical print and material cost has been cumbersome for prosthetic/bionic production. However, due to the decline in prices on both commercial and desktop 3D Printers, as well as a drop in the cost of the materials that such machines require, the cost of creating the non-electronic components of a bionic appendage has been easily reduced. Such popularity has the industry seen in industrial and commercial 3D Printing that some programs are allowing for direct printing from their software, such as with Autodesk Inventor 2016.
By minimizing the cost of operations, as well as a lower base cost of purchasing an Industrial or Desktop 3D Printer, those who wish to push the envelope, such as Limbitless Solutions, can do so cost-effectively.
Proving that 3D printing can change the world
Limbitless Solutions, which operates out of Florida, has shown that 3D Printing can change the world. Recently the company manufactured a robotic arm similar to that of Iron Man. The design was presented to the child by Iron Man himself (Robert Downy Jr.). Not only did this presentation provide the child with a needed appendage, but it also gave the child a once in a lifetime experience with his hero. We could take a lesson from the CEO Albert Manero. Albert Manero holds a doctorate in Medical Engineering from the University of Central Florida. Yet he has not spent his life in the pursuit of the dollar but in pursuit of the dream and the implementation of the premise of medicine, to help those in need.
But it is not just the CEO which makes this company extraordinary. The entire team is a testament to both the capabilities of technology coupled with 3D Printing, as well as the mindset of the student which graduate from the University of Central Florida (as all of the main members of the organization are graduates from the college). Should industry professionals dedicate part of their skillset, their abilities and their time, the availability of 3D Printed Bionics would allow children, veterans, and amputees all over the world to have mobility which would otherwise be denied.
While the bionic arms created by Limibitless Solutions is admirable, there must be a continuous progression in technology, innovation, and drive from Engineers, Innovators, 3D CAD Designers, and Medical Professionals if low cost prosthetics are to become a reality to all children who need them. Limibitless Solutions has a number of projects which they are working on to push forward in these areas. The first is Bionic Arms on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding campaign that aims to deliver 35 3D Printed Bionic Arms to children in the USA and another 35 3D Printed Bionic Arms to children in Syria. The second project is Project XAVIER. Named after the comic book X-man legend, the project seeks to help those with MS control a wheelchair with their mind.
Where does this leave the common man? Certainly, not everyone has a degree in Medical Engineering or Technology. But does this mean that there are no options available to the Avid Designer, Modeler, or Visionary? No, it is rather to the contrary. Remember that Easton LaChappelle created a mind powered arm as a teen, that Joe Landolina created a way to stop bleeding when he was 17, and that several others have contributed to the advancement of 3D Printing and Design just through trying something new. It is not that you have to be a genius, or that you have to hold high prestige in the medical community, or even that you have to have the best materials available. You can make do with a desktop 3D printer, so long as you have the heart and motivation to accomplish something great. Limbitless Solutions may have not started out with bionic arms in mind, but through hard work, a vision and determination, the have been able to provide solutions to children all over the world and inspiration to countless others.
Where will your visions take you?