3D printer builds ‘Magic Arms’ for two-year-old girl with joint disease

emma-magic-arms

Detailed within a YouTube video, researchers at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children developed a lightweight exoskeleton for a two-year old girl named Emma that was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). The disease can cause joints to become permanently fixed in a single position. Prevalent in Emma’s arms, it was impossible for her to lift her own arms on her own in order to do something as simple as picking up a toy or even giving her mom or dad a big hug. After researching the disease, Emma’s parents attended a medical conference where they learned about the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX). Emma was able to try out a version of the WREX at the hospital, but she was too small for the bulky metal arms.

WREXIn order to design a version for Emma that would both fit her and weigh significantly less, the researchers used the Stratays Dimension 3D printer to build pieces of the arms out of the same type of plastic that’s used in LEGOs. The pieces snap together and resistance bands are used to adjust the tension on the two arms.

In addition, the researchers also developed a jacket that fits over Emma and the arms are fixed to that exoskeleton. This allowed Emma to have increased mobility in her home. She could finally use her arms to do things like color drawings or eat candy as well as simply having fun being a silly kid.

As Emma has grown up, she outgrew the first version of the exoskeleton. However, the 3D printer allows the researchers to input new specifications into a computer program and print larger parts as she grows older. It’s also handy for printing new sections of the exoskeleton when something happens to break. After Emma’s parents send the researchers a digital photograph of the broken piece, the newly printed piece can be dropped in the mail and delivered to Emma’s parents the next day.

When Emma’s parents tell Emma that they are putting on the WREX each day, Emma calls the device her “magic arms.” Researchers have used the design that they built for Emma and have created similar lightweight exoskeletons for other children. 

Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Biometric phone unlocks can’t be forced by feds, says U.S. judge

Fingerprint and face unlocks used to not be protected by the Fifth Amendment, but that may soon change. A judge in California has ruled biometric unlocking methods of all kinds are protected in the same way as passcodes.
Computing

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer

The length of Saturn's day has always been a challenge to calculate because of the planet's non-solid surface and magnetic field. But now scientists have tracked vibrations in the rings to pin down a final answer.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.
Emerging Tech

Dinosaurs never stood a chance after asteroid impacts doubled 290M years ago

The number of asteroids pummeling Earth jumped dramatically around 290 million years ago. By looking at Moon craters, scientists discovered that d the number of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon increased by two to three times.
Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.