Feb 23, 2017 | By David

One of the most inspiring and positive uses we have seen for 3D technology is the development of prosthetics. The easy customisation that the 3D printing process offers allows these life-changing objects to be personalised for the body of an individual wearer, and the low cost means that such advanced prosthetics can be made available to those most in need. The non-profit LifEnabled, Inc, based out of Raleigh, NC, is leading the way in this particular field, focusing its efforts on producing prosthetics for amputees in the most impoverished parts of the world.

The organization was founded by Brent Wright, who has been working in the prosthetics field for over 20 years, and his wife Meredith. Recently, it developed a new app, DigiScan 3D, in an effort to simplify and optimize its work, which is mostly focused on the bi-annual prosthetic clinics it runs in the Peten region of Guatemala. DigiScan 3D was built from scratch by Wright, and is made to be compatible with an iPad or iPhone, along with the Structure 3D scanner. This allows 3D images of potential prosthetic users to be easily captured and stored, even while offline. This 3D scanned mesh is then cleaned up and converted using the Remake software. Finally, it can be opened up in the cloud-based CAD program Fusion 360, to connect the finished project to the design for the prosthetic itself, which will then be 3D printed to fit the user’s body.

Wright is excited about this new combination of the DigiScan 3D software and the Fusion 360 software, as it allows more people to get involved in the manufacture of prosthetics, people who might not even be part of the production team. "We are able to maximize time with help from volunteer practitioners," he says. "They can modify scans directly from their computer, without ever leaving their community." This open source modification is one of the key benefits that 3D printing offers to the manufacturing process in general, whether it is for the production of prosthetics or more industrial or commercial projects.

The most recent project that LifEnabled is working on is a new design for a prosthetic socket, which will feature embedded components. The length of time from initial design to final production for this kind of object is being cut in half by the implementation of 3D printing. Wright says that they are now able to double the amount of patients they help, and he claims that "We are only limited by the number of printers we can run at one time."

(Credit: youtube.com, Brent Wright)

DigiScan 3D is available to purchase now, and any money made from it will go directly to fund the support that LifEnabled, Inc is providing for amputees in Guatemala and other places around the world. Although it was designed to produce prosthetics, the software is principally made to be a simple to use tool, so its range of features have just as much potential to be used by other prototyping industries as well as by hobbyists.



Posted in 3D Printing Apps



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