Improving Sara’s quality of life: A 3D printed prosthetic hand

Improving Sara’s quality of life: A 3D printed prosthetic hand

When we think about quality of life, we imagine us sunbathing on a tropical beach or just taking a breathe in a relaxed atmosphere on the other side of the world. We usually think big. However, sometimes small things can absolutely change someone’s quality of life.

And this is the case of Sara.

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Sara and her classmates observing the final prosthetic hand (RTVE, 2017).

Sara is a girl from Spain who was born with a malformation on her right hand which doesn’t allow her to use it properly. In March this year, Spanish television program “El árbol de los deseos” from RTVE, visited Sara at her school with an important gift for her. A fully 3D printed prosthetic hand.

A few months earlier, RTVE contacted Koldo, manager of DomoTek, and asked him to develop a fully 3D printed prosthetic hand for Sara. Domotek is a company that offers 3D printing machines and services and is really interested in social changing projects. Furthermore, Domotek is part of an association called “Enabling the Future“, exclusively dedicated to make open source 3D printed prosthetic hands.

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Sara’s conceptual idea and digital model of her prosthetic hand (Domotek, 2017).

Koldo managed the whole project and thanks to the BCN3D Sigma and the “Enabling the future” association, the project was a great success. The BCN3D Sigma, thanks to its dual extruder system that can print with two colours or materials at the same time, was able to print the entire piece in the exact colours that Sara wanted. So not only solving the problem but also improving it as well.

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Finished double colour 3D printed proshtetic hand on the BCN3D Sigma (Domotek, 2017).

Nowadays Sara is enjoying her prosthetic 3D printed hand as a little-big change in her life. This has been possible thanks to RTVE, DomoTek and “Enabling the future”, a non-profit association that is improving someone’s quality of life everyday thanks to its Open Source philosophy.

So is there where society has to put its energies, understanding that disruptive technologies like 3D printing can help to improve our lives. Understand from the oldest to the youngest, that the constant development of 3D printing technology it’s just the beginning of a new way to live better.

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Sara using her prosthetic hand in the park (Domotek, 2017).

Architects pay tribute to Calatrava by 3D printing the Turning Torso

By using BCN3D Sigma 3D printers, the team at Suntem 3D has been able to 3D print the emblematic building Turning Torso by architect Santiago Calatrava. The mock-up has been manufactured with a scale of 1/135 and measures 1 meter and 40 centimeters.

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Since they were students, the architects of Suntem 3D fell in love with the work of the architect Santiago Calatrava. They have always admired his ability to create strong and coherent concepts transposed into an elegant blending of architecture into structure.

That is why they decided to 3D print the Turning Torso building as a tribute to this great architect.

In 1999, architect Santiago Calatrava was invited to develop a mixed-use residential tower in the port area of Malmö, Sweden, as an important part of the Malmö Western port transformation program. The project was conceived as a vertical sculptural element that symbolizes the human body in motion. The shape of the building is composed of nine units (each containing five floors), rotated to each other, and located around the central core, generating a spiral motion.

Turning Torso (190 meters) is the tallest residential building in Sweden and the second tallest residential building in Europe.

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In order to carry out their idea, the Suntem 3D team had to design the digital model. Once created, they started printing the pieces with their BCN3D Sigma printers. After 137 hours of 3D printing, they made their goal a reality: to have a physical model of the building.

The mock-up was printed in PLA, ideal for those models and prototypes that need a good surface quality and aesthetic detail. Also, is the perfect material for printing parts that contain overhangs, complex geometries and intricate curves. PLA is the best choice for building affordable models that need good surface quality for customer presentations, to help them better understand and visualize the product.

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It is easier for architects when they can visualize their designs physically and not on a screen. It is also very easy to just touch the model and figure out what it looks like from all angles.

Accelerating stroke rehabilitation thanks to a customized 3D printed orthotic swimming fin

Two industrial designers from Barcelona have created a swimming fin to accelerate the rehabilitation of Pedro, a 16-year-old boy who suffered a stroke, which paralyzed half part of his body.

Pedro is a sixteen years old guy from Barcelona who loves sports. In August 2012 he suffered a stroke, a left ganglion basal hemorrhage, which paralysed half part of his body. After a long period of rehabilitation, Pedro recovered a great part of the mobility, except in his right hand, affected by spasticity. Spasticity is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes an increase of the muscular tone hindering totally or partially the movement of the affected muscles.

The beginning of the project

In July 2016, Pedro started a new sports project at the Club de Natació l’Hospitalet, a swimming club that had just created an adapted swimming section.

Due to the spasticity, Pedro used to have difficulties positioning properly his hand when swimming. To find a solution, his coach Àlex Agut and the president of the swimming club Jordi Lorca, contacted with the UPC’s (Polytechnic University of Catalonia) CIM centre, a prestigious university center in Barcelona known for its Masters and Postgraduate studies. The students of the Master’s degree in Design and Engineering in Product Development Marc Roca and Iñigo Martínez-Ayo were selected to solve the challenge by creating a new personalized hand swimming fin for him.

The challenge of designing a customized product

The project was focused on 3D printing technology (FFF), for his advantages when producing. A design process has to pass through different stages until finished. Normally in the stages of product development, prototyping and testing is where more time and money is spent. Before launching a product, this has to be used and improved by using prototypes. In traditional industry, the time of making those prototypes is too long and some companies just make a few versions of the product affecting the final result. The fewer prototypes, the more possibility of errors in the final product.

The advantage of 3d printing in short time projects

Nowadays, thanks to the 3D printing technology, companies and professionals are able to carry out a more efficient product development, not just by making more prototypes in less time, but also making them with materials that have very similar properties to those that will have the commercialized product.

BCN3D Sigma R17 Swimming Fin for stroke rehabilitation

Marc and Iñigo, by using the BCN3D Sigma 3D printer, developed the product for Pedro in less than four weeks. During this time they made ten functional prototypes trying different shapes and materials with a budget of 100 €. After running out different test, they decided to manufacture the swimming fin in Nylon, an extensively used material for its unique mechanical and chemical properties. Thanks to characteristics like durability, flexibility and resistance to corrosion, Nylon is ideal for multiple applications in the 3D printing field, like end-use parts or custom jigs and fixtures.

To print the part in Nylon correctly, they used PVA material as a support material in the second extruder of the BCN3D Sigma. This filament is a water soluble polymer, ideal to work as support material for printing complex geometries, large overhangs or intricate cavities. PVA supports allow achieving better surface quality and to orientate the part to get better mechanical properties.

3D printed fin for stroke rehabilitation

The results

Thanks to the immediacy that 3D printing offers, Pedro had his personalized 3D printed swimming fin in a very short period, generating, among others, the following advantages:

  • Improvement in body position, facilitating stroke and movement.
  • An increase of the musculature in the upper part of the body.
  • Due to the improvement in the swimming position, Pedro spent more time in the pool without getting tired. That improved muscle tone throughout the body.

Pedro’s case is a great example of the benefits that 3D printing offers in projects that require the creation of several prototypes in order to see how they fit in the patient.