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Editor's note.

Innovations in 3D printing continue to amaze and one story that really caught my eye involved 6-year-old Alex Pring.

With help from Stratasys 3D Printing, Alex, who was born without his right arm, was fitted for a functional? 3D printed prosthetic last November. The amt was developed by engineering students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and produced using a Stratasys 3D printer.

Alex's new amt shows promise for tire 3D printing industry, which continues to make significant strides in the medical field. A prosthetic arm today could lead to a fully-functional leg tomorrow. The possibilities could be endless. Alex now has the ability to climb trees and catch a football, activities most children enjoy every day without a second drought.

"I can shake two people's hands at once," Pring said.

The brains behind this amazing innovation is UCF aerospace engineering Ph.D. student and Fulbright Scholar Albert Manero. Manero volunteers at E-Nable, a network passionate about 3D printing with a goal of developing 3D prosthetic hands for those in need. Manero met Alex and Iris family through the E-Nable online network.

It took seven weeks for Manero and his team to design Alex's arm. The Dimension Elite 3D Printer created the arm, using Ivory ABS material, which is strong, yet light enough to allow Alex to move freely and comfortably.

Alex quickly adapted to his new arm.

"He learned to use the prosthetic fast," Manero said.

Receiving the arm was an emotional experience for Alex and Iris family.

"When he could control it, the first tiring he did was hug his mother. He said it was their first real hug. There wasn't a dry eye in the room," Manero said.

If Alex's 3D printed arm is a success, the breakthrough at UCF could be an encouraging step forward in the need for prosthetics.

"I think 3D printing is revolutionizing our world in many ways. I believe changing the world of prosthetics is very real," Manero said. "Stratasys tools with UCF ingenuity will change the world."

But, it is just a start, a work in progress. Manero and his team are continually searching for ways to improve its design. As Pring gets older, the team at UCF will have to print a larger arm to match his growing frame, but say it will come at a much smaller cost than a traditional prosthetic.

More importantly, Manero and his designers are not hiding their secrets. They plan to publish the design files to the public online with 3D print instructions in the hope that many more lives will be changed with this brilliant innovation.

This 3D breakthrough certainly gives Stratasys, a company with headquarters in Minneapolis and Rehovot, Israel, a strong name in the 3D printing field, especially for medical devices.

"3D printing is changing the way prosthetics are designed and produced in ways previously not possible," said Gilad Gans, president, Stratasys North America. "It's a remarkable feeling when you see how 3D printing gives a kid the chance to live a happy life like other kids."

For Alex, he can now enjoy the freedom of being a typical 6-year-old boy.

For more information on the Stratasys Dimension Elite system, visit:

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Author:Damask, Kevin
Publication:Surgical Products
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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