Stratasys Ltd., a maker of 3D-printing equipment and materials to create objects directly from digital data, is teaming up with Dassault Systèmes, a European software firm, and entrepreneur Easton LaChappelle to set up a new prosthetic arm initiative.
The companies said they will be joining Unlimited Tomorrow, founded by LaChappelle, a robotics whiz kid who reportedly made his first mechanical arm out of LEGOs, fishing wire and surgical tubing at the age of 14, to provide amputees with affordable, custom-designed functional arms.
Traditional prosthetic models are often heavy, cumbersome and expensive — costing a minimum of $20,000 and up to $100,000. It’s even more expensive for children because many quickly outgrow their models and need entirely new devices, the companies said in a statement late Monday.
“Unlimited Tomorrow re-thinks the way artificial limbs are made by targeting common pain points of customization, weight and cost,” the statement said.
The Nasdaq-traded Stratasys, which has headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, and in Rehovot, Israel, will become the exclusive provider of 3D printing technology for the initiative, the statement said, and the partners will collaborate with Stratasys on research, development and production of the prosthetics. The US firm merged with Israel’s Objet in 2012.
“We view 3D printing as a catalyst for healthcare innovation to enable better patient care, streamline procedures, and improve learning. One of the most visible impacts is in creation of prosthetics,” said Arita Mattsoff, vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility, at Stratasys.
Unlimited Tomorrow, a manufacturing firm that provides amputees with affordable artificial limbs by combining 3D scanning, 3D printing, and machine learning, is raising funds for the initiative via a campaign on Indiegogo.