University of Pittsburgh: Potential of 3D Printing for Veterans

November 08, 2016

University of Pittsburgh: Potential of 3D Printing for Veterans

This Blog Post from our Friends at 3D Printing Industry and it is written by Beau Jackson - 

From this Friday nations around the world will unite in their annual commemoration of the First World War, with days marking Remembrance, Armistice and Veterans respectively in the Commonwealth, Allied territories and the US. Though this year marks almost 100 years since the ceasefire, disability gained in areas of conflict, and indeed from even broader causes, are still something that the world endeavors to find life-improving solutions for.

The Veterans Affairs (VA) Research and Development program in Washington DC, was recently in conversation with Dr. Brad Dicianno and Garrett Grindle of Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to explore the possibilities of using 3D printing to help disabled veterans.

HERL have been using 3D printing technologies in their development for around 15 years now, but Dr. Dicianno and Grindle pointed out that the improvements 3D printing brings to the manufacture of supports has not been properly assessed in current literature. In a review for the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Journal they, along with two other researchers, analyzed the 7 different types of additive manufacturing and their implication in 20 cases of assistive technology and orthoses (support items) and prostheses (attachable articles) manufacturing.

One of the studies the researchers looked at is called 3D printed prototype for casting ergonomic wheelchair push rims (Medola, 2012). Pushrims are the rings that wheelchair users use to push themselves along. That survey showed that 100% of participants preferred the 3D printed equivalent of their standard push rims, with 67% finding it “very easy” to move with them, and 33% only “somewhat easier”. Though contrasting evidence was also found, Dr. Dicianno et al. eventually determined that 3D printing for all three sectors is ultimately worthwhile.

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