TJ McCue for Forbes
3D printing is regularly touted as one of the future’s brightest technologies and business opportunities. But the real and beautiful power comes when any technology can truly change a life as it has in the case of a two-year-old little girl named Emma. Thanks to a Stratasys 3D printer, Emma now has the use of her arms.
In this touching video, Emma’s mother explains her birth defect, called arthrogryposis, and the work of the amazing and cool team of researchers at Nemours, a pediatric health system in Delaware that has centers and labs to solve many unique problems for children. Researchers created the 3D printed and durable custom exoskeleton with the tiny, lightweight parts she needed.
The Center for Orthopedics Research and Development (CORD) works closely with Nemours Department of Orthopedics to develop devices and methods that directly impact children with musculoskeletal and orthopedic disabilities. The Center efforts are focused within the Pediatric Engineering Research Laboratory (PERL), which includes the WREX (Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton) that allows children with weakness to move their arms in three-dimensional space in front of them, and the Cricket, a brace compliance sensor.
Emma calls these arms her “magic arms” and, thanks to simple ABS plastic from a 3D printer, she can use them every day.
With advances like this one, and many others, you can quickly see the draw that many people have to 3D printing. It solves business problems, but more so, it solves life problems and changes lives. I’m reminded of one of my first posts that profiled robotics hand/glove maker Steve Hoefer with Tacit, his glove for the blind (not 3D printed, but a great use of technology to serve people). With all the stats about the billion-dollar growth expected for this burgeoning industry, they pale in comparison to one life changed.