ITERATE led an 18 month InnovateUK funded programme, which involved a collaboration between C Enterprise (UK), Printed Electronics and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG). The aim of this project was to develop a new 3D printing technology that combined Fuse Deposition Modelling (FDM) with the deposition of conductive ink in the same build volume – and demonstrate its usefulness.
The creation of this new technology, which was termed IMPACT (Integrated Manufacture of Polymer and Conductive Tracks), made way for new product opportunities across a number of sectors. ITERATE chose to focus in the healthcare space and developed a lower arm 3D printed child’s prosthetic that incorporated conductive tracks; removing the need for copper wires. The prosthetic was based upon a design originally developed by Ben Ryan from Ambionics.
“I saw at first hand how Gethin augmented his core skill as an accomplished Design Engineer with project governance to the highest professional standards in a complex multi-partner consortium” Mervyn Levin, Monitoring Officer at InnovateUK
A MyoWare muscle sensor was located in the socket of the prosthetic. Using the functioning part of the arm, the Myo sensor could translate small muscle movements into electronic signals. This sensor connected to a removable module that contained control electronics and a linear actuator. When such movements were detected, the actuator who open and close the thumb, providing the child with a suitable gripping force.
The project demonstrated the benefits of the new printing technology, which resulted in a lower cost, lighter weight, custom fit prosthetic being produced that involved minimal assembly. The removable module, containing the control electronics, could also be reused in larger versions of the lower arm prosthetic that the child may require as they grow; enhancing its sustainability as a solution.