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.

BCN3D Sigma_Prosthetic_3D_Domotek_Enabling the future_RTVE

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.

BCN3D Sigma_Prosthetic_3D_Domotek_Enabling the future_RTVE_5

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.

BCN3D Sigma_Prosthetic_3D_Domotek_Enabling the future_RTVE_4

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.

BCN3D Sigma_Prosthetic_3D_Domotek_Enabling the future_RTVE_6

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

3D printing helps the Design Does* exhibition at the Design Museum

The Domestic Data Streamers team uses BCN3D Sigma and Sigmax 3D printers to produce several items that can be found at the Design Does* exhibition, currently open at the Design Museum of Barcelona.

Design-Does-Exhibition-Design Museum

Exhibition Design Does* 

Design Does* is a co-production between the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona and Elisava, in collaboration with Domestic Data Streamers.

The exhibition is a research project to generate knowledge at group level by questioning the current use of design and reflecting on how sometimes it offers advantages and on other occasions drawbacks. Thus it defines future challenges and poses the question of what role the designer plays in society.

Free-Universal-Construction-Kit-Design Museum

Free Universal Construction Kit, a project by Golan Levin (F.A.T. Lab) and Shawn Sims (Sy-Lab)

An unconventional approach

Can we live without plastic? Can design pose moral challenges? Where do things come from? How do we join together what industry separates? Can we design something we cannot see?

These are some of the 15 questions linked to current events that the visitor will encounter and which will be represented by 15 real projects developed by renowned designers all around the world.

The exhibition is a dynamic initiative that generates knowledge and breaks away from standard exhibition structures. It places visitors in a key position, requiring them to reflect and turning them into an active component which in turn generates new content.

With its strong technological character, Design Does* encourages interaction with visitors, who can relate to the exhibits by responding to the questions asked of them. Their answers will be stored on a card that will be used to research public opinion.

Follow-Daniel-Armengol-Design Museum

Follow, project by Daniel Armengol Altayó

The virtue of 3D printing in short-term designs

The exhibition, curated by Elisava and Domestic Data Streamers, uses 3D printing technology to create some of the pieces that can be found throughout the exhibition. Domestic Data Streamers (DDS) is a Barcelona start-up that researches new communication formats using data.

The DDS team has long been committed to the use of 3D printing as a tool to revolutionize their workflow, as was the case of The Timekeeper project in collaboration with Spotify. Additive manufacturing enables them to bring to life unique designs with complex geometries that will only be manufactured once. Undoubtedly, one of the features of 3D printing and the benefits it provides compared to other technologies is the agility and speed to manufacture end products, which drastically reduces project costs and the time required to develop it.

The only restriction is imagination

Death Inc. is one of the most appealing installations in the exhibition – a robot whose entire structure is printed in 3D using BCN3D Sigma and Sigmax printers.

Death-Inc-Domestic-Data-Streamers-Design-Museum

Death Inc., project by Domestic Data Streamers

As the visitor approaches, the robot is activated and traces their path with a laser pointer while turning on a 360° axis. The project poses the question of whether we should we automate everything and attempts to challenge and project how design can be incorporated into ethical issues, such as designing autonomous weapons that are able to make decisions in the face of any situation without the need for human interaction.

3D-Printing-Domestic-Data-Streamers

One piece printing and the assembly process of the Death Inc.

As a technology, 3D printing is loaded with moral and ethical implications. Now that we have reached the point when anybody that owns a 3D printer is able to print whatever they like, we should ask ourselves what impact that may have in the future.

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.