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Art & Design

Written by Mies van den Biggelaar

William Root
Image by: William Root

The ‘Exo’: a 3-D printed, sci-fi, designer leg

This 3-D prosthetic leg is more than a designer leg; it has been made with a reason.

Every year, 185,000 amputations are performed in the United States, the majority involving the lower extremities. Prostheses have a very important role in the psychological recovery of patients and enable amputees to regain their freedom and the functionality they had lost.

At the same time however, prostheses have two issues: prostheses are very pricy, due to the very specialized craftsmanship and the complexity of the mechanisms within them; on top of that, the aesthetics of most prostheses are robotic and mechanical.

The Exo-Prosthetic, designed by Brooklyn, NY based industrial designer William Root, uses the modern technology of 3D scanning and printing.

The current conventional process consists of a circle of mold, cast, vacuum form, fit, assemble, adjust and repeat. This is not the case in William Root’s new created process, using a combination of a 3-D scanner, 3-D printer and complex 3-D modelling software. The most important result of this is a customizable and affordable prosthetic leg!

The first prototype of the Exo has been made, but still has to concur a few roadblocks before it can hit the market. It's not the 3-D printed parts that are most expensive, but rather the knee and ankle joints used in the design - which are in fact specialized components - that have high price tags.

Not unimportantly, the Exo prototype is not capable yet of supporting the wearer’s full weight, and therefore has to gain clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

With the Exo, the cost of the limb would be reduced almost to just the cost of printing it. As 3-D printing technology advances and becomes more mainstream those costs have nowhere to go but down.

– William Root

Want to discover more about the Exo-Prosthetic, its modern production process and see more of William Root’s work? Visit his Behance page.

William Root
Image by: William Root

Tags: prostheses, Anatomy & Art, William Root, Prosthetic leg, 3D printing, 3D scanning, The Exo

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