ZDNet caught wind of a recent agreement between Stratasys, a 3D printing company, Dassault Systems, producers of design software, and Unlimited Tomorrow, creators of low-cost prosthetics.
“Under the partnership, Stratasys will become the dedicated 3D printing provider for Unlimited Tomorrow [while Dassault will be the dedicated software provider]…[with the goal of scaling] custom-designed, low-cost robotic arms for amputees.” Fascinatingly, Unlimited Tomorrow was started by entrepreneur Easton LaChapelle when he was only 17.
“LaChapelle’s idea was to cut costs for recipients receiving prosthetics, which can run anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. For children, those costs are limiting since they can outgrow models. Unlimited Tomorrow aims to address customization, weight, and cost with digital, scanning, and 3D printing techniques to speed up development and fittings.”
With the aid of these bleeding edge technologies, LaChapelle explains “the baseline costs for an Unlimited Tomorrow prosthetic will run $5,000, and there’s a service model for children when they outgrow the device for $2,500 and an upgrade…with help from Stratasys and Dassault, Unlimited Tomorrow is looking to scale its efforts.” LaChapelle explains that unlike its competitors – such as Open Bionics, who use rigid materials, Unlimited Tomorrow does not.
Now with Stratasys, Unlimited Tomorrow “can print in any color and has automated the design process so [each prosthetic will be] unique to the individual.” Stratasys and Unlimited Tomorrow outlined this process: “3D scanners collect data from the missing arm and opposite full arm if possible. Then, the data runs through proprietary software and automatically exports files ready to be 3D printed. Finally, the prosthetic is printed and combined with sensors and wireless charging to manage force feedback through haptics.”
Stratasys’ Director of Healthcare Solutions Mike Gaisford elaborates: “the Unlimited Tomorrow-Stratasys-Dassault partnership is a mutual win on many levels. Unlimited Tomorrow gets the scale and expertise, while the partnership includes research and development, design collaboration, and knowhow from Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. While this relationship is a key piece of Stratasys’ Corporate Social Responsibility Program, it goes much deeper. Stratasys is playing a three-tier role: providing actual funding to power Unlimited Tomorrow’s operation and growth, 3D printing all components for the first 100 arms at no cost, and bringing Unlimited Tomorrow’s innovation-to-production scale by guiding the Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) process.”
Image and Quotes Courtesy of ZDNet