At Stratasys, we’re extremely proud of initiatives that leverage 3D printing for the greater good. One current relationship demonstrating the power of 3D printing is our partnership with Limbitless Solutions.
Limbitless is a non-profit and direct support organization for the University of Central Florida (UCF). The group was founded in 2014 by students, including Albert Manero, who received three degrees from UCF, including his Ph.D. in 2016.
His team is dedicated to empowering children in the limb difference community. Limbitless creates personalized, creative, and expressive 3D-printed bionic arms and believes no family should be financially burdened because their child has a limb difference.
Their current projects – Bionic Arms, the Project Xavier hands-free wheelchair, and Accessibility Training Video Games – all center on building confidence for individuals with accessibility technology.
Limbitless’s facilities on the UCF campus in Orlando, Fla. provides undergraduate students with a chance to engage in the lab and expand professional development – working to create a more inclusive future. 3D printing technology has been at the center of their mission, to engineer personalized bionic arms for children, since its beginning. Stratasys is happy to be a sponsor of and support Limbitless and has been involved since Albert was an undergrad with a mission. To that end, we just signed an extension of our current agreement – allowing us to do more great work.
Stratasys’s Jesse Roitenberg, an education segment sales leader, has been part of the Limbitless relationship for more than seven years. I sat down with Jesse to learn more about his work with the organization and the partnership he began with Albert Manero:
How did you meet Albert?
It was seven or so years ago when I received a phone call from a student telling me a story about a project he was working on where he was designing and building a prosthetic arm for a young child that couldn’t afford one. “He had me at hello.” Before he could ask, I jumped on the opportunity to donate two cartridges of materials to him for this project.
How has Limbitless changed and grown over years?
Since this phone meeting, Albert has grown (now a PHD and CEO of a company) and Limbitless has grown from manufacturing in the UCF engineering lab with Albert, John and Dominique to a team of 15+, an internship program, meetings with the Gates foundation, meetings with Ironman, a clinical trial for their patients, a store front next to the UCF stadium, a manufacturing facility with 4+ printers, and a portfolio of 15+ prosthetics printed for young children in need.
Why 3D printed upper limbs?
Cost and customization. They have designed the prosthetics to be modular where small components can be replaced in hours when needed. They customize the prosthetics based on the child’s likes, which they found out became a sense of pride!
Why are they using Stratasys to 3D print without limitations?
The ABS materials are safe, strong, light, affordable and reliable. It is also nice that the ABS is paintable.
In May 2018, Limbitless announced the first-ever 3D printed prosthetics trial for children in the United States – key to driving market clearance by the FDA. What’s the impact of FDA approval?
I believe this will turn the prosthetics industry on its head. A prosthetic that used to be $15,000 is now $300. The insurance companies also don’t cover prosthetics for children until they are done growing. So if they choose to buy one, it’s like getting a size 9 shoe when you’re still a size 6 and planning to grow. Instead, you should be able to exchange components for $20 when you need to size up and have something that fits perfectly.