July 29, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to inspiring a group of designers, engineers and makers to develop solutions for a problem in a very short amount of time, holding ‘design sprints’ for product development helps move through ideas quickly and iteratively.  Of course, these ‘sprints’ are even more effective when the general public is invited to help share their own ideas, too.  More recently, this was the case for the VA Innovation Creation Series Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge that was held July 28th and 29th in Richmond, Virginia.

The challenge, which was hosted by the VA Assistive Technology Program and VA Center for Innovation, was established for the public to contribute towards designing devices and solutions for improving the quality of life and care of military veterans within the community.

To better enable the designers, engineers and makers to easily work through design iterations and ultimately produce finished concepts, Stratasys generously provided fourteen FDM-based 3D printers including a Fortus 450mc, three Fortus 250mcs, six uPrints, three Mojos and one MakerBot, as well as a team of knowledgeable 3D printing experts to assist participants in bringing their solutions to life during the two-day event.   

“The collaboration with Stratasys is critical to accelerate the development of personalized assistive technologies and prosthetics for differently-abled Veterans,” said Andrea Ippolito, Presidential Innovation Fellow for the VA. “At this event, we can co-create and build designs based on each veteran’s unique needs and obtain their feedback in a very agile, tailored pathway.”

Although the Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge launched in Palo Alto on May 15, it wasn’t until this week that the challenge culminated in Virginia.  The VA wanted participants to be able to  solicit feedback from the veterans during the challenge as well as allow veterans to pitch their own challenges to design teams as well.  

Among other veterans in attendance who was in need of a custom-tailored design solution included war veteran Kim Matthews.  Since being diagnosed with Essential Tremor, a condition which affects one’s ability to perform fine motor tasks, Matthews has found difficulty in performing certain tasks using her hands.

Using some of the online solutions that were uploaded to GrabCAD by the Challenge’s participants, Matthews was able to test a variety of designs as well as give feedback for further refining a design to better suit her individual needs.

Among other 3D printed devices created for Matthews include a stabilizing glove that was 3D printed using a Stratasys FDM-based Fortus 3D Printer.  

Although the event is now over, it’s safe to say that with the surging popularity of 3D printed prosthetics and other assistive devices, we’re more than likely to see a similar challenge pop up before next year.  

"This event is an ideal application of 3D printing to innovate designs to create custom, personalized devices that couldn’t have been made with traditional manufacturing,” said Michael Gaisford, marketing program director for medical solutions at Stratasys.  

“Stratasys is enabling prosthetics, orthotics, and assistive devices where one can affordably go from scan to design to print in a digital-only environment.”



Posted in 3D Printing Events



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