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The rise of 3D printers has been interesting. They've been praised for being able to build a house and simultaneously questioned for their ability to create assault weapons. For one little girl, though, they stand for a second chance at a normal life. Two-year-old Emma was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), a congenital disorder that can cause the joints to become locked in one place. In Emma's case, it's in her arms. Try as she might, Emma doesn't have the strength to lift her arms on her own accord. Not to feed herself, push hair out of her face or pick up a crayon.
There are, of course, prosthesis out there that Emma could use in theory. The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton should work, but Emma is too small for the heavy metal arms. This didn't stop researchers at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, though. To make one that fit Emma, researchers turned to 3D printing. Specifically the Stratays Dimension 3D printer to build her arms made not of metal but of plastic. The very same plastic that's used in LEGOs.
They then created a jacket that fits over Emma while she's wearing the arms, giving her mobility in her own house. And it worked: Emma can now use her arms now for all the aforementioned activities and myriad more. Since she's a growing girl, she's already outgrown of one version of the exoskeleton. The printer, though, allows for constant modification of the exoskeleton that Emma has come to know as her "magic arms."