Going global with prosthetics innovations

3D printing has the potential to transform industries, create synergies and open up new opportunities. At the MAKE+ facility, we’re looking into how 3D printing can revolutionize prosthetics. Our researchers hope to create novel prosthetic designs that will provide beauty and function to the users. As part of this vision, two BCIT researchers recently went to Germany to meet up with other grass roots innovators in the field.

Designs which expressed the values and insight of all stakeholders in the Prosthetics domain were rendered in 3D using scanning technologies in concert with modeling tools in the development of the limbs for 3D printing.

In December 2016, BCIT MAKE+ researchers Silvia Raschke, PhD and Lisa Boulton, BDes participated in a Prosthetics Make-a-thon at the Technical University in Munich (TUM) Germany. The Make-a-thon brought together amputees, artists, prosthetists, orthotics companies and industry experts to answer this question: “In what ways does the introduction of 3D printing change the relationship between amputees and their bodies and the practice of clinical prosthetics?”

“We spent the week developing novel designs that reflected the wishes and needs of the participating amputees and then printed scale models of their very unique and personal designs” says Silvia Raschke Project Leader, MAKE+.

“This event was an exciting example of the valuable synergies which form when diverse participants meet and interact creatively,” says Prof. Dr. rer. soc. Sabine Maasen, professor at the Technical University in Munich. “BCIT faculty members participating added a global perspective to the event. We look forward to continuing to follow the culture of the Prosthetics field to see how it develops under the influence of this new technology, which has the potential to better meet amputee’s wishes and desires as well as providing more flexibility and productivity to a traditionally focused industry.”

Attendees collaborated in a co-creative design process to develop innovative solutions for upper/lower limb prosthesis leveraging 3D Printing Technologies.

The trip supported BCIT’s goal of “going global” with design and product innovation in prosthetics, positioning BCIT as an international collaborator and driving the leading edge of products development in this field. MAKE+ is exploring the intersection between Prosthetics & Orthotics (P&O), innovation in 3D printing, prosthetics design innovation and the integration of wearable technology in the CREATE lab and newly established SoftShop.

The outcomes from this event were so successful that a follow up Make-a-thon is now being planned at BCIT for September 2017! Stay tuned to BCIT News for updates.

To learn more about this work or to find out how you can help make it a reality, contact the Applied Research Liaison Office (ARLO).

If you speak German, you can read this article about the Make-a-thon recently published by the Munich Centre for Technology in Society (TU Munich). The article speaks to the international nature of the event, pointing out that the findings will soon be presented in the United States.

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