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MODERN ENGINEERING MARVEL #13
  • Exo Prosthetic Leg

    Exo Prosthetic Leg

    Photo by Will Root



    Nearly 2 million amputees live in the US with another approximately 185,000 additional amputations performed each year. Most involve the lower extremities. Currently, every prosthesis manufactured must be laboriously customized for a specific patient. The time and specialized labor for production make them cost prohibitive for many amputees.

    William Root, an Industrial Designer, believes this time-intensive process is outdated. Using a 3D scanner, a 3D printer and complex 3D modeling software, he has automated the process. The resulting Exo-Prosthetic Leg, made from strong, lightweight titanium, is a more precise, customizable, attractive and affordable prosthesis.

    The Exo Prosthetic uses a combination of scanning technologies to create a virtual model of the patient's limb. A reversed laser scan of the remaining intact limb allows the prosthetic limb to match up to the original within millimeters. "FitSocket", a technology developed at MIT, helps insure the best fit.

    The new process combines scans of the intact leg, the residual limb and off-the-shelf prosthetic mechanisms in a 3D mesh model. The prosthetic limb is hollowed out into an exo-skeleton to reduce weight. The hollowed limb is then uniquely customized to match a person's needs. The final model is 3D printed out of titanium. A Laser Sintering process fuses the titanium dust particles together.

    The next stage of this exciting innovation involves developing a fully functional prototype and determining the structural requirements.


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