Article

3D printed prosthetic helps Paralympic cyclist win an Olympic medal

  • Nimish Sany
  • 27 September , 2016

Denise Schindler is a 30year old German cyclist and survivor of an accident, in which she lost her right leg. But she is also a champion. The cyclist has two silvers and one bronze at the World Championships to her name and grabbed the silver medal at this summer in Rio. In her pursuit of glory, Denise was aiming for nothing less than her best. To be at her best performance, she knew the standard prosthetic leg is not going to be enough, for it has caused injuries to the champion cyclist in the past.  

Denise Schindler cycling with her 3D printed prosthetic

Denise Schindler cycling with her 3D printed prosthetic. Image: Dezeen/Youtube

Willing to settle for nothing but victory, Denise found Paul Sohi, a designer at Autodesk who explains why 3D printing a “performance prosthetic” was the perfect solution, “The production time of a prosthetic leg is much faster with 3D printing,” he says. “Previously, prosthetics took up to 12 weeks to manufacture. However, with the 3D printing technologies, it can be done in 3-5 days. Also, 3D printing a prosthetic leg is also way cheaper than the traditional manufacturing methods,” he added. The inherent lightweight property of the 3D printed prosthetic added to Denise’s advantage.  Noting that the weight of the 3D printed prosthetic was reduced by 400 grams, he says, “Previously, these types of things needed to be done by hand. Now they can be mass customized in no time.”

 “Previously, these type of things needed to be done by hand. Now they can be mass customized in no time,” added Sohi. The British designer says that he believes the potential for 3D printed prosthetics is vast. The flexibility of 3D printing to be able to print out a customized, tailor-made prosthetic is hugely appealing for amputees, especially in developing countries. “This can completely revolutionize the lives of disabled people all around the world,” says Sohi.

Denise Schindler went on to add to her name a silver medal at the summer Paralympics 2016 and showed the world that champions are made and not born, sometimes with a little bit of help from technological innovations.  

Author

Nimish Sany: I bleed my thoughts on paper. And if I cant find a paper, blogs serve the purpose just fine.

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