A 3D-printed robotic suit that gives back the gift of mobility

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about 3D printing but the other day CNET featured a story about a pretty amazing application of 3D printing that can’t be ignored: helping a woman walk for the first time in 22 years.

In 1992, Amanda Boxtel was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a snow skiing accident. 3D Systems, a pioneer in 3D printing technology, scanned Amanda’s thighs, shins and spine, and used the data to create an exoskeleton that fits her body perfectly.

When combined with actuators and controls from Ekso Bonics, the exoskeleton gives Amanda the chance to get out of her wheel chair and walk upright – something she might have felt she would never do again.

Aside from the positive impact on Amanda’s life, what’s really great about this project is that it provides a compelling example of the potential of 3D printing that’s admittedly far afield of your typical hobbyist project.

Check out the video for some of the footage of Amanda taking some of her first steps, as well as the amazing craftsmanship of the suit that’s making it all possible.