Continuing our coverage of 3D printing at SOLIDWORKS World 2018, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys and French software developer Dassault Systèmes have announced that they will be jointly powering Unlimited Tomorrow, a personalized prosthetics startup founded by inventor Easton LaChapelle.
As part of the collaboration, Stratasys will provide 3D printing technology to Unlimited Tomorrow, while Dassault Systèmes will become the initiative’s dedicated CAD supplier.
Easton LaChapelle and personalized assistive devices
Currently, high-end prosthetic limbs cost between $20,000 and $100,000. For young users, this is especially challenging, since they outgrow models and require new devices.
Unlimited Tomorrow aims to shift the focus from mass production of prosthetics to the recipient, and manufacture custom 3D printed robotic arms from scalable models.
The robotic arms are based on designs that Easton LaChapelle has been creating since the age of 14. In 2013, LaChapelle demonstrated a robotic arm at his TEDx talk, which cost $400 to manufacture thanks to 3D printing.
The evolution of Unlimited Tomorrow’s devices
Early robotic arms have since evolved into realistic 3D printed limbs. They can stand up to 10 lb of force on each finger, contain a counterbalance, have individual finger control, and offer haptic feedback. They also feature muscle sensors, machine learning, AI capabilities, and 3-4 days of battery.
“Unlimited Tomorrow is driven by enabling the possible, with unique thinking that results in absolutely incredible ideas,” said LaChapelle. “Our intent is always ‘user-first’, meaning the technology serves needs of patients from the outset – and it’s all driven by the most advanced technology.”
An arm with these features costs around $5000 and multiple fittings are no longer required since LaChapelle creates the prostheses using 3D scans the users themselves have taken.
Currently, LaChapelle is conducting R&D to increase the ability to customize the prostheses while reducing the weight and cost of prostheses.
Stratasys and corporate responsibility
Stratasys will become the exclusive provider of 3D printing technology to Unlimited Tomorrow, also providing the initiative with access to a range of materials and support from Stratasys medical.
In return, Unlimited Tomorrow will fully collaborate with Stratasys on research, development, and production of these prosthetics, in line with the company’s corporate social responsibility. Arita Mattsoff, VP for corporate social responsibility at Stratasys commented that,
“We view 3D printing as a catalyst for healthcare innovation to enable better patient care, streamline procedures, and improve learning. One of the most visible impacts is in creation of prosthetics,”
“That’s why the main component of our Corporate Social Responsibility program is focused on the accessibility of devices – driving true change, improving quality-of-life, and advancing recipients’ self-esteem,” Mattsoff added.
Dassault Systèmes and bringing prostheses to market
Dassault Systèmes will give Unlimited Tomorrow access to its SOLIDWORKS software and advice from its PolyJet expert team. This will help the organization realize its designs and bring them to market.
“Time and again, SOLIDWORKS is the go-to portfolio of applications that make real innovation possible,” said Suchit Jain, vice president, strategy & business development, SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes. “It’s very rewarding to align with Stratasys to advance Unlimited Tomorrow’s global initiative.”
Let us know what you think the best 3D printing application has been in the past year. Make your nominations for the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2018 now.
For more stories on 3D printing and prostheses, subscribe to our free 3D Printing Industry newsletter, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
An Unlimited Tomorrow prosthetic arm with individually moving fingers. Photo via Unlimited Tomorrow.