Innovation

Stratasys 3D printing partnership will drastically cut costs for custom prosthetics

Stratasys, Dassault Systemes, and Unlimited Tomorrow will tap automation, 3D printers, and software to quickly build custom-designed prosthetics.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Stratasys and Dassault Systemes are joining their 3D printing and software capabilities to create custom-designed, low-cost, highly functional prosthetic arms for amputees.
  • The new prosthetic arms built by the Unlimited Tomorrow initiative will cost $5,000, compared to the minimum of $20,000 for those currently on the market.

Stratasys and Dassault Systemes are joining forces to create custom-designed, low-cost, highly functional prosthetic arms for amputees, the companies announced at SOLIDWORKS World 2018 on Monday.

As 3D printing advances, the technology has proven to have a number of enterprise applications, including for rapid prototyping and medical device testing. However, it's been slow to catch on: Only 18% of organizations said they were actively using 3D printers as part of business operations in 2016, according to a Tech Pro Research survey. Projects like this could help demonstrate what the technology is capable of in various settings, including the office.

Unlimited Tomorrow—the joint initiative created by entrepreneur Easton LaChappelle—will pair Stratasys applied additive technology solutions and Dassault's software.

SEE: 3D printing: A primer for business and technology professionals (Tech Pro Research)

Traditional prosthetic models cost anywhere from $20,000-$100,000 per device, and are often cumbersome and heavy, according to a press release. Unlimited Tomorrow will alter the supply chain, using digital technologies, scanning, and 3D printing to streamline development and reduce the number of fittings needed for custom prosthetics. The baseline costs for an Unlimited Tomorrow prosthetic will run $5,000, and includes a service model for children who outgrow the device for $2,500 and an upgrade, as reported by our sister site ZDNet.

Stratasys and Dassault Systemes will be the program's dedicated 3D printing and CAD/CAE suppliers, respectively. The development and production of the prosthetics will occur through the Stratasys PolyJet team, as well as Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Using Dassaults' SOLIDWORKS applications, the initiative can facilitate an integrated design-to-creation process, and bring the devices to market faster.

With these tools, Unlimited Tomorrow can print a prosthetic in any color, and has automated the design process to more easily customize it to the individual, ZDNet reported. 3D scanners first collect data from the missing arm and the opposite full arm, if possible. Then, the data runs through the proprietary software, and automatically exports files that are ready to be 3D printed. Then, the prosthetic is printed, and combined with sensors and wireless charging to manage feedback through haptics.

"We view 3D printing as a catalyst for healthcare innovation to enable better patient care, streamline procedures, and improve learning. One of the most visible impacts is in creation of prosthetics. That's why a main component of our Corporate Social Responsibility program is focused on accessibility of devices - driving true change, improving quality-of-life, and advancing recipients' self-esteem," Arita Mattsoff, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Stratasys, said in the release.

Unlimited Tomorrow is fundraising the effort through Indiegogo.

Also see

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Image: Unlimited Tomorrow

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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