Mar 29, 2016 | By Benedict

A group of e-NABLE student volunteers from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee is running a 3D printed prosthetic leg covering project called ‘Next Step’. The project, led by e-NABLE stalwart Frankie Flood, recently received a $10,000 prize from the Infymakers Challenge.

Anybody who has registered even a small interest in the world of 3D printed prosthetic limbs will have heard of e-NABLE, the international nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing simple and effective 3D printed prosthetic hands to the worldwide limb different community. Although best known for its timeless prosthetic hand design, sections of the e-NABLE community are now branching out into new areas of 3D printed design.

Frankie Flood, a professor at UWM and one of e-NABLE’s most dedicated and long-serving volunteers, recently established the Next Step project. After helping to create numerous 3D printed prosthetic hands for amputees and other limb different persons under the e-NABLE banner, the professor decided to enlist the help of several students to try their hand at something altogether different. Part of the reason for e-NABLE’s enduring success has been the consistency of its 3D printed prostheses, all based on the robotic hand of Corporal Coles, a device dating back to the early 1800s. Flood, however, believed he could put his wealth of 3D printing experience to use in a different capacity.

Flood’s Next Step project focuses on personalized 3D printed covers for those with prosthetic legs. The group, consisting of Flood and UWM students Fred Kaems, Becky Yoshikane, Sara Shuler, and Calvin T. Rupnow, will offer its 3D printed covers to veterans who have lost legs during military service. The aim is to provide these veterans with the opportunity to create a bespoke prosthetic leg covering that both reflects their personality and interests, and that gives the prosthesis the anatomical shape of the missing limb.

“The project began with an introduction to Gerald Ortiz of Melody America who put our students in contact with Sgt. Eric Rodriguez USMC,” Flood explained in a blog post. “I was introduced to Gerry through my work with e-NABLE. Gerry runs Melody America, an organization that promotes adaptive music therapy for veterans. We discussed the fact that many amputees would like the opportunity to restore the anatomical shape of their affected limb.”

Being well acquainted with 3D printing, Flood realized that he and his Digital Craft Research Lab students could help create 3D printed coverings for these amputees. When the students confirmed their interest in the project, Flood began planning a 3D printed fairing which could be used as a free-to-use template for veterans and other members of the limb different community. Flood decided to make Sgt. Rodriguez the first recipient of the project, obtaining 3D scans of his prosthetic leg socket, before leaving the students to come up with a range of 3D designs.

Under the guidance of Flood, the students created 3 prototype 3D printed leg coverings over a period of 15 weeks. The first consisted of a covering modeled on the students’ own bodies, the second focused on creatively depicting the interests and personality of Sgt. Rodriguez, while the third was designed with interchangeable fascias to enable easy customization for different wearers. Each student created custom 3D printed fairing pieces which could be used interchangeably on the third prototype.

To gain exposure for their project, the students entered Next Step into the Infymakers Challenge, a competition run by the nonprofit Infosys Foundation USA. To the team’s delight, Next Step was chosen as one of the ten winners, securing $10,000 for the fledgling 3D printing project.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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