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Printing the future

Printing the future
Printing the future

Scientists at ETH Zurich have successfully manufactured a robotic arm containing bones, ligaments, and tendons—all composed of different polymers—in a single step using recent advancements in 3D printing. This breakthrough goes beyond the usual boundaries of prosthetics, representing a major stride forward in the world of assistive technology.

Utilizing the latest innovations in 3D printing, researchers have successfully printed a robotic limb with intricate components such as bones, ligaments, and tendons, all crafted from a variety of polymers in a single process. This represents a monumental achievement, especially when compared to traditional prosthetics produced through 3D printing, which were constrained by the use of rapidly curing plastics.

The true breakthrough lies in the ability to precisely tailor various polymers to imitate the elasticity and rigidity of the human hand. Unlike previous prosthetic models, this new approach allows for a more personalized and adaptable solution, providing users with a prosthetic limb that closely mimics the natural movements and properties of a human hand.

The shift from fast-curing to slow-curing plastics in the 3D printing process is a pivotal advancement. Researchers emphasize that these materials offer "decisive" advantages, boasting heightened elasticity, increased durability, and enhanced strength. This not only addresses the limitations of earlier prosthetics but also sets the stage for a new era in personalized, durable, and versatile assistive devices.

Looking ahead, the perspectives for the utilization of this technology are both exciting and promising. The enhanced flexibility and durability of these 3D-printed materials open avenues for diverse applications beyond prosthetics. The adaptability of the printing process hints at a future where this technology becomes a cornerstone for accessible, eco-friendly manufacturing on a global scale.

The successful creation of a robotic limb with intricate components through 3D printing showcases not only the prowess of modern technology but also its potential to transform the lives of individuals in need. This pioneering initiative signifies a monumental step forward in the field of prosthetics, offering a glimpse into a future where advanced materials and collaborative research redefine the possibilities for assistive technology.

The advent of 3D printing technology in crafting personalized prosthetics represents a transformative breakthrough, particularly in addressing inequalities in access to quality healthcare solutions. This initiative resonates strongly with SDG 10, which strives to reduce inequalities within and among countries. By providing individuals with tailored and accessible prosthetic solutions, this technological advancement contributes to creating a more inclusive and equitable society, fostering progress towards the overarching goal of reduced inequalities.

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Youtube credits: @Engadget


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