Italian 3D printer company WASP, also known as the World’s Advanced Saving Project, stays pretty true to its name – the company always works hard to make sure its technology is helping people find sustainability and meet their basic needs in a world that is constantly changing. Whether it’s eating the right food, having access to medical solutions, or just keeping a roof over someone’s head, WASP is on a mission to help people help themselves through the use of 3D printing.
“The challenge…is to give everyone the chance to make their objects by downloading the project from the network or making their own,” WASP writes in its company manifesto. “In this way a new concept of production is born, which reduces shipping costs and drastically reduces material wastage, thus slowing the increase of waste to be disposed of.
“The Earth’s resources are not enough to support the existing population explosion and to change the growth models is no longer an option but rather an urgent need.”
According to a 2018 GDR study that WASP mentioned, before the year 2025, the global prosthesis and orthosis market is projected to reach $12.28 billion. Four years ago, the multidisciplinary WASP Medical team, or WASP MED, was established to help people meet health needs, like 3D printed casts, cranial and bone implants, and prosthetic legs. The main focus was to be on prosthetics, but the bioengineers, doctors, material manufacturers, and orthopedic experts on the team knew that it wasn’t enough to simply create medical 3D printers and materials – they also had to make sure that the professionals who would be using them knew what to do.
That’s why WASP MED has announced the launch of a free add-on for open source software Blender, version 2.8, specifically for the modeling of orthoses with 3D scans. WASP has been researching and working on this add-on for over a year, and is happy to finally report its release.
The idea behind the WASP Med Blender Add-on was to “fill the gap” between available open source hardware, which is powerful and less expensive but not developed specifically for medical applications, and professional software, which is rigid and costly, to create an open source modeling tool that can be used by medical professionals to develop 3D orthopedic prints.
Alessandro Zomparelli, a computational designer and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, has experience modeling objects based on the human body, and helped WASP develop the add-on. WASP said that his previous work was “key to create a powerful tool that allows professionals to easily draw complex shapes on 3D scans.”
Blender, which can be downloaded for free all around the world, has grown to be one of the best 3D modeling products for animation purposes, but obviously has branched out into other applications as well. The new add-on contains step-by-step commands on how to model a shape, like an orthotic, on a 3D scan; then, the final shape can be 3D printed. It offers freedom of intervention with all the native Blender tools, but also features some new tools, such as:
- cropping undesired parts
- drawing the shape of orthoses
- exporting the mesh for 3D printing
- fixing the scan
- making modifications and corrections
- managing thicknesses and borders
Hopefully, the free add-on will make it easier to provide access to 3D printed medical devices that are too expensive for some people, or where access to treatment is not readily available. WASP believes that its new Blender add-on is a step in the right direction to creating a worldwide collaborative community where professionals can easily use open tools to create healthcare solutions.
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