Artificial limbs, that are usually not very cheap and easy to get are easily becoming quite affordable. To take things a step further and make things more exciting, a 3D printed exoskeleton was given to Amanda Boxtel, who has been paralyzed from waist down since 1992, enabling her to get off her wheelchair and walk again. She was told by her doctors that she would never be able to do so!
The Ekso-Suit, designed specifically for Amanda, was made possible by designers at 3DS. To make sure that the exoskeleton fit her perfectly, they started by scanning the contours of her thighs, shins and spine and digitizing all that information to create the 3D base for the exoskeleton, which was then integrated into other mechanical components to create the full automated suit. One important factor they had to consider while designing the suit was that since Amanda did not have any sensation from waist down, they didn’t want any of the components poking into her skin as that would have caused abrasions. Since Amanda has no sensation in her legs, those abrasions could have formed dangerous complications.
This 3D printed Exoskeleton is a big step towards making such accessories available to the common masses at prices substantially less than other commercially available solutions. 3D printing in the coming years is going to bring lots of exciting yet inexpensive enhancements to the assistive technology world!
Watch this video to see all the components the Ekso-Suit is made of. Also see Amanda Boxtel walk with the Ekso-Suit on!