Oct 23, 2015 | By Alec

No 3D printing innovation is more important or revolutionary than a medical one, and in that respect we are very happy to learn of some new fantastic designs by a young Italian nonprofit organization. Called Open BioMedical Initative, this group of volunteers has spent the last year or so working on and perfecting 3D printable designs for low cost medical solutions. At the Maker Faire Rome 2015, they have unveiled three of their creations: a prosthetic hand and  a low-cost bionic version, and even a 3D printed BOB incubator for newborn babies.

Open BioMedical Initiative was born out of a very clear problem: 80% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to adequate medical technology. Fortunately, globalization and technological innovations are now enabling us to do something about that. ‘Geographical distance can be easily overcome when technical difficulties are faced together, costs cut down in order to help every person, supporting them through humanitarian organizations, NGOs and local health aids too. Biomedical technology can meet the Network and its potential, it can become a Digital Biomedical initiative, at the service of a World without borders and disparities,’ the Italian innovators tell us of their ambitions.

As Valentino Megale of Open BioMedical Initiative explains to 3ders.org, their organization was founded over a year ago with the purpose of combining the talents of many specialist volunteers into a single life-changing operation. ‘Engineers, doctors, makers and designers work on the design of biomedical devices. Graphics and video makers creatively tell about activities and aims of the OBM Initiative. Writers and bloggers describe the potential of the new technologies posting on an online Magazine. Lawyers and economists discuss and develop new legal and economic approaches,’ he says. ‘Curious and passionate supporters share the latest news about the OBM Initiative and help in organizing events. All of them share their skills and their free time, a family where everyone is welcome.’

As could be expected, CAD design and 3D printing played a huge role in their development. ‘Any biomedical project can be designed on the PC, edited in real time and perfectly adapted to the person by the work of volunteers scattered around the world, and then be sent anywhere with a single click, without having to drive even a single km,’ Valentino tells us, and that’s exactly the type of open source approach they want. ‘The result is not a closed knowledge reserved to few people, but every idea and solution become a common heritage, facilitating the identification of potential errors and allowing more complete customization of biomedical technology.’

As any visitor of last week’s Maker Faire Rome 2015 will have seen, this approach has already resulted in three remarkable 3D printed creations that can definitely change lives throughout the developing world. The first is the WIL, an easily customizable hand prosthesis that costs just 60 euro (or approximately $75) to manufacture. They have even developed a low-cost bionic alternative that costs just 500 euros – thousands less than existing bionics – called the FABLE. ‘The 3D printed electric prosthesis with electronic parts, for more precise movements reproduced on the basis of muscle signals,’ Valentino says, adding that it relies on off-the-shelf electronics.

But surely their most impressive creation – and one that will truly save lives – must be the BOB. This is a biomedical baby incubator that maintains an ideal microclimate for infant development, especially for those born prematurely or malnourished. ‘According to the WHO […] there are still vast territories like Africa and other countries in the developing world, where the neonatal mortality rate is still too high to international set standards. Among the various causes it has been estimated that approximately 75% of neonatal deaths occurs in the first week of life, often due to the lack of a support given by too expensive or difficult management / maintenance biomedical equipment,’ Valentino explains. The idea for the BOB was quickly born. ‘The aim is to obtain a reliable and cheap system, easy to carry but sturdy, with low energy consumption and easy to maintain. Through a feedback controller, the system must maintain constant parameters: if they vary and exceed a threshold value (set) it activates the audible alarm’ he says.

Open BioMedical Initiative is thus truly on course to save lives, and they were a big hit at the Maker Faire Rome 2015. The next step is completing and certifying these designs, before spreading them out across the world. However, the only drawback is – as ever – funds. While they are getting a lot of fantastic help from a lot of different sources already, they have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Italian platform Withyouwedo. ‘Every donation will help the initiative to reach its goals, develop projects, certificate them and distribute to anyone who needs them,’ Valentino says. If you want to make a modest contribution to this fantastic cause, be sure to check them out.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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