At ABLE Human Motion, they believe the best way to design compelling and really useful exoskeleton technology is by involving the final users from the beginning. This implies fast design iterations incorporating the patient’s feedback, and this is where 3D printing excels.
Transforming ABLE’s Product Development
ABLE Human Motion is a medical device start-up based in Barcelona with the mission of enabling mobility for everyone. They design, develop, and commercialize exoskeleton technology to empower people with disabilities, by providing better mobility and increased independence. They have developed the world’s first lightweight and accessible robotic exoskeleton to allow individuals with mobility impairments walk again in clinical rehabilitation, which comes together with ABLE Care, a cloud-based mobile app for personalized and data-driven therapy.
At ABLE, they believe the best way to design compelling and really useful technology is by involving the final users from the beginning. This implies fast design iterations incorporating our patient’s feedback, and this is where 3D printing excels.
Before using 3D printing, testing a new proposal for ABLE took a minimum of 2 weeks and cost around 5 times more when relying on traditional manufacturing methods and external suppliers. The process was slow, inflexible, and fixing design flaws was time-consuming. Now, thanks to 3D printing, they can test a new proposal in less than one day at an affordable price. The 3D printer provides flexibility, allowing rapid adjustments to fix design flaws.
Thanks to additive manufacturing technology, ABLE has experienced significant advantages in their product development process. Firstly, they have been able to affordably prototype solutions, validating new design improvements efficiently. Additionally, the printers have enabled the iterative development of production tooling and testing setups, eliminating the need for external manufacturing suppliers.
3D Printing vs Traditional Methods
Comparing 3D printed parts with traditional methods reveals important benefits. The technology has allowed them to manufacture more complex geometries compared to CNC machines. Moreover, they can print parts directly “in situ,” avoiding the long supply process associated with external companies.
In terms of problem solving, 3D printing has had a great impact on their business. It facilitates quick and efficient testing and validation of new geometries, saving substantial costs on design iterations and reducing the time spent managing prototype manufacturing with external suppliers. Furthermore, they have been able to leverage 3D printing to design and produce tools that assist in the assembly of exoskeletons and to test components for quality compliance, highlighting its versatility in addressing diverse business challenges.
Overall, by the end of the year, the savings in development costs and time are substantial compared to traditional prototyping methods.
3D printing Integration
In conclusion, the integration of 3D printing technology into ABLE Human Motion’s exoskeleton design workflow has not only revolutionized their approach but has also given a sense of optimism and innovation into their mission of enabling mobility for everyone. The adoption of 3D printing stands to the company’s commitment to creating compelling and useful exoskeleton technology by actively involving end users in the project’s inception.
The ability to swiftly incorporate patient feedback, facilitated by 3D printing, has not only streamlined design iterations but has also created a dynamic environment where the patient’s experience takes center stage. The impact of 3D printing is reflected in the transformation of ABLE’s product development process, which is helping them make things better by quickly and affordably testing and creating prototypes.