Oct. 25, 2014 | By Alec

We've been seeing a lot of medical applications of 3D printing technology in recent weeks, and understandably, most of these are prosthetics. That 3D printing is very suitable for creating custom prosthetics that suit a patient's particular disability, needs no further explanation here.

However, Chinese company Qingdao Unique Technology interprets this in an entirely different fashion. Rather than just settling for a 3D printed prosthetic, they've taken things to a totally different level by developing a 3D printed, custom-made wheelchair that can be adjusted to suit specific patients. That's right, a whole wheelchair.

Qingdao Unique Technology are a company specializing in 3D printers. They have only recently revealed the interesting and multifunctional Anyprint B01CS 3D printer. This printer is really capable of printing just about anything, as uses a variety of different filaments, including living cell material, various natural bio-materials and high polymer filament.

But with this construction, they've proven to be capable of some clever designs as well. As explained, they're hoping to lead wheelchairs into the private customization era as well. 'Using the most advanced 3D printing technology, these wheelchairs can be tailored to suit the needs of patients themselves.'

They have the look and feel of ordinary wheelchairs, and this is unsurprising as the basic construction concept is the same. Unlike ordinary, one-size-fits-all-wheelchairs, however, these 3D printed constructions are made with a custom PVC material called Flex, that is both lightweight and enables a proper support and abrasion resistance. Furthermore, it comes with a unique rear wheel 'that is designed to make climbing stairs far easier for patients, helping them to live a normal life.'

Last but not least, this wheelchair has also been designed to help patients through the rehabilitation process. According to its designers, all wheelchairs will be based on scans of the patients they're intended for. This way, back or arm support can be adjusted to suit the particular needs of the patients.

And this is what forms their biggest selling point, according to Qingdao Unique Technology. 'Private customization and exclusive production breaks the traditional medical procedures, for which there is a large demand. With the advent of the 3D printed wheelchair, every patient can buy a device appropriate for their own needs and recovery process.'

While its currently not known if these wheelchairs will actually enter production, the concept itself is intriguing. After all, 3D manufacturing is in its core about custom production, and if that can be realised on such a scale, it will only improve the lives of patients everywhere. Let's just hope it can be done affordably too.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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