16-year-old Pedro Lopez Rodriguez, who suffered from a stroke in 2012, uses a 3D printed swimming fin to help improve his form.
Pedro Lopez Rodriguez is a 16-year-old boy from Spain who suffered from a stroke six years ago. As a result of this, half of his body was paralyzed.
Rodriguez faced a long period of rehabilitation but thankfully recovered a lot of his mobility. However, his right hand is still affected by a disorder of the central nervous system.
In July 2016, he started a new sports project at the Club de Natació l’Hospitalet. His choice was a swimming club. Although Rodriguez had difficulty positioning his hand while swimming, he didn’t let that stop him.
In order to make swimming a little easier, Rodriguez’s coach, Àlex Agut (and the president of the swimming club Jordi Lorca) contacted with the UPC Polytechnic University of Catalonia’s CIM centre.
Two Masters students of Design and Engineering in Product Development, Marc Roca and Iñigo Martínez-Ayo, were tasked with creating an aid for Rodriguez. They began working on a customized swimming fin which would help Rodriguez to easily position his hand.
Of course, the advantage of 3D printing is that it speeds up the entire process from product design to finished item. It was easy to create multiple iterations and see what would work best for Rodriguez.
By using 3D printing the students were able to test different materials and shapes quickly and cheaply. Even though they had a small budget of €100 they created ten different functional prototypes. From this work, they found the best material and shape. The final design is fabricated in Nylon with PVA support material.
Roca and Martínez-Ayo used a BCN3D Sigma 3D printer to print their designs. As a result, it took under four weeks to create a final product for Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has since been using the 3D printed fin and has reported back the ways in which it has helped him. So far, he’s noticed an improvement in body movement and an increase in upper body strength. Better yet, he can swim for longer periods of time thanks to the fin enabling him to improve his position.
Rodriguez’s story is certainly an example of how 3D printing can work to improve lives in the most remarkable and unexpected ways.
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