UAE - A team of young Emirati engineers at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) have achieved a new breakthrough in developing prosthetic limbs using 3D printing technology.

These 3D-printed prosthetics are superior to ones made with existing methods. They are lightweight, strong, comfortable, customisable, accurate and can be manufactured for a fraction of the price.

This new generation of prosthetic limbs will ease the transition of patients who have lost their limbs due to accidents, natural disasters, and wars as well as to people of determination. They can be customised to meet the needs of the patient through software and can be manufactured at an much faster rate.

Abdulqader, a member of the research team said the breakthrough was achieved at SRTIP’s Sharjah Open Innovation Laboratory (SoiLAB), using Industrial grade3D printing technology and artificial intelligence-based software.

“This represents the largest leap in the field of prosthetic devices in the UAE and demonstrates the country’s capabilities as well as the emirate of Sharjah's position as an incubator of innovations and scientific research on a global scale,” he said. “We have conducted extensive research and development to ensure that the prosthetic leg is not only lightweight and strong, but also stylish, comfortable, and adaptable to the varying needs of users. Using state of the art Artificial Intelligence software, we were able to generate a unique design, which is extremely light but durable, impossible to manufacture traditionally”

The manufacture of prosthetics using 3D printing techniques has many benefits. It drastically reduces costs when compared to traditional methods. It enhances accuracy and customisation and also allows production of more complex and precise parts. Also, 3D printing reduces the margin of human error due to the high accuracy and professional finishing through these Industry grade machines.

The new development is in line with SRTIP’s ground-breaking feats in 3D printing technology, which also covers areas such as dentures, bones, medical and surgical devices, and hearing aids.

Mr. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, said, "This breakthrough by our young Emirati engineers reflects the emergence of the next generation of specialists and professionals in additive manufacturing and 3D technology. It is part of our integrated professional program to spot and nurture young Emirati engineers and groom them to be leaders, skilled industrial entrepreneurs, and professional specialists of the future.”

He added: “SOILAB is the first incubation center for start-ups and innovative businesses in Sharjah that allows the community of practitioners to exchange materials and learn new skills and focus on engaging participants in learning content, which includes schools and universities. The idea is to provide students, researchers and innovators with latest technologies and advanced machines, at a nominal cost, in addition to attracting international companies to conduct research.”

The feat achieved by the Emirati engineers reflects the success of SRTIP in nurturing Emirati talent. Last year, SRTIP celebrated the graduation of the second batch of young Emirati engineer trainees as part of the training and qualification program for future industries and technologies, foremost of which is additive manufacturing. The program was a great success, as participants were selected from various universities and colleges in the UAE with academic backgrounds and qualifications in engineering.

Statistics from the World Health Organization show that more than 40 million amputees live in developing countries, and most of them are victims of conflicts. According to Doctors Without Borders, only 5% of them receive care in the form of prosthetics.

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