Aug 1, 2017 | By Tess

Polish 3D printing company Sinterit recently teamed up with 3D designer Bartłomiej Gaczorek to develop and 3D print an exoskeleton arm device for children suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare genetic neuromuscular condition which causes immobility in the patient’s arms, legs, and hands through lack of muscle control.

The 3D printed exoskeleton arm, which works as an external supportive device, enables children suffering from SMA to move in certain ways, allowing them to play, draw, and move a bit more freely.

The idea for the 3D printed exoskeleton arm was born when the mother of an SMA-afflicted boy contacted Gaczorek to see if he could help her son. At just three years of age, the young boy had already tried some low-cost assistive devices, but none of them were suitable. As an experienced maker and 3D designer, Gaczorek was up to the challenge.

Once he started doing some research, the designer noticed that most existing devices to help SMA patients were quite complex pieces of engineering, but needed some refinements for practical use. With the help of various consultations with the parents of SMA children as well as doctors and specialists, Gaczorek came up with a design that could really work.

In making the external arm device, the designer turned to Sinterit, which offered up its Sinterit Lisa SLS 3D printer to help prototype the innovative device. SLS technology reportedly offered a more suitable manufacturing platform than FDM or SLA 3D printing because of its high-precision and lightweight but strong material options.

As the designer explained: “I decided to print main elements in SLS technology, because it is able to print complex internal structure. Very important factor for me is also the comfort of user which is much better with SLS/SLA than with FDM technology. The cost of Sinterit Lisa SLS printing is already very low compared to other industrial machines.”

The Sinterit Lisa, which first launched in 2015, is one of the most affordable SLS 3D printers on the market and offers a respectable build volume of 150 x 200 x 150 mm. SLS, also known as selective laser sintering, is an additive manufacturing process which uses a laser to sinter nylon or polyamide powders into a 3D shape.

According to Sinterit, the prototyping stage for the exoskeleton arm has wrapped up and it is now working with Gaczorek to develop custom exoskeleton arms for three Polish children who are suffering from SMA. Once these three are complete, the company hopes to continue making more of the devices for other SMA patients.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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