The Exo-Prosthetic Leg created by William Root, an industrial designer, is a 3D printed artificial limb that used modern technologies to fabricate the customizable, intimate, form-fitting body part. It was developed to resolve many problems of the current process of adapting a prosthesis to an amputee’s specific anatomy. The design enhances a combination of a 3D scanner, printer and modelling software in order to create a more precise and affordable manufacturing procedure.
Considering there are over 2 million amputees in the United States with a reported 185,000 amputations every year, it becomes clear just how important affordable prosthetics are. Aside from a lower cost of fabrication, there are many amputees who consider aesthetics to be just as important. Root’s Exo-Prosthetic Leg design not only offers a low cost solution for amputees but also an aesthetically pleasing design. “By bypassing the traditional methods of producing a prosthesis with modern automated technologies,” says Root “the Exo is able to be much more affordable and attractive than typical prostheses.”
Since every person is different and requires their own customized solution, by using a combination of 3D scanning, 3D modelling and ultimately, 3D printing, Root has established a process that he believes will change the process of creating a prosthetic limb. To aid in precise fitting, FitSocket technology, which was developed in the Biomechatronics lab at MIT, is used to analyze the tissue properties of the missing extremities.
The Exo process starts by analyzing the patient’s situation. The patient’s limb is scanned to create a 3D model that can be used as a highly accurate template for creating the design. Once the final data has been established, the 3D mesh can be manipulated with a 3D modelling program and then establish an exoskeleton design which moves on to be 3D printed. The design is printed out in titanium using the selective laser sintering (SLS) technique. The titanium dust particles are fused together to manufacture the limb.
Since revealing the Exo project, Root has received a lot of attention and is now considering how to apply his approach to existing prosthetic design systems, partnering up with a 3D printing manufacturer or launching a setup centered around customized 3D printed prosthetics.