3D-printing has been used to great effect in the development of custom prosthetic aids for disabled humans and animals, patient-tailored medical devices and replacement body parts. Now, biomedical engineer Eliza Wrobel has used additive manufacturing to make the humble walker even more useful for those suffering from limb disabilities who want to stay active.
Wrobel's half-scale four-wheeled multifunctional walker prototype was created using a ZMorph 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer as a proof of concept showpiece. Its frame was printed using Silver ABS for ease of production, while yellow and black PLA was used for parts needing to be tougher. Even the wheels, brakes and arm pads were 3D-printed using Flex filament.
Like many traditional walkers, you'll find hand-activated breaks, arm supports, a foot rest and a cup holder featured on the concept, but it also boasts switch-out shopping cart and baby seat add-ons – potentially offering users more independence and the opportunity to take an infant relative out for a stroll.
In all, over a hundred components went into the construction of the prototype, including 3D-printed parts, a handmade cushion, some wire, straps and screws. It's not clear whether the prototype will ever reach full size and make it into production, but ZMorph says that it serves as a good example of the important role of 3D printing in product development.