Stratasys and Dassault Systems have contributed technical expertise to a new venture, Unlimited Tomorrow, which has been founded by Easton LaChappelle to create custom-designed, low-cost, highly functional prosthetic arms.
The basic concept is to use 3D printing technology to reduce the cost of producing customised prosthetics for children, where it might otherwise be too expensive to make conventional prosthetics because the children will outgrow them. To this end, Stratasys will provide the 3D printing as part of its PolyJet team, while Dassault is responsible for the CAD/CAE through its Solidworks portfolio.
Michael Gaisford, director of Stratasys’ Healthcare solutions, says: “This will be the first time that we have formally collaborated with a prosthetics manufacturer to help them with the additive manufacturing.” However, the agreement only commits Stratasys itself to produce the first 100 prosthetic arms. After that the Unlimited Tomorrow team will take over the production though it’s likely that it will contract the production out to Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Gaisford points out that LaChappelle chose Stratasys for a number of reasons including the ability to print in colour and to match the skin tone of the patient. Stratasys will use the PolyJet J750 and he adds that this has very high resolution that will produce a good finish and with an accuracy that will allow for mechanical functions such as fingers with good motor skills.
Essentially the idea is to use digital, scanning and 3D printing technologies to streamline development and reduce multiple fittings – minimizing the impact to each patient and of course keeping the cost down. Unlimited Tomorrow has developed a standard design that can be adapted around the needs of most patients, which will also help to keep the cost down. The design is mostly suitable for below the elbow prosthetics, which Gaisford says will meet 70 percent of the need for prosthetic arms.
LaChappelle commented: “We are honored to have Stratasys and Dassault Systèmes join our growing enterprise coalition, further empowering us to change the paradigm for personalized, 3D printed prosthetics and accelerate our-go-to market.”
Unlimited Tomorrow is using Indiegogo’s platform for current equity fundraising efforts.