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Giving A Hand To Innovative Three-dimensional Printing Tech Projects For The Developing World

By Expert Author: Lia Satterley

Sarginsons, a leading UK die casting specialist have recently been working with nearby Warwick University on an exciting student project with a goal to help communities across the developing world using 3D printing technologies.

In February Sarginsons were approached by the university about an innovative collaboration project that focuses on the potential for 3D printing technology and its capabilities for struggling communities across the developing world.

The idea being that as many communities in the developing world struggle with acquiring common components and objects, 3D printing is emerging as a viable option for rapid prototyping, and manufacturing one-off items, without the need for skilled labour and expensive machinery. For Sarginsons' part, they were asked to draw on our skilled team to produce four aluminum components based on 3D prints designed and created by students, which would be later used as moulds.

Thanks to the skilled help of the Sarginson's team, the students at Warwick University are one step closer to their goal of creating a low cost, easy to run 3D scanner, for developing nations. Anthony Evans, Sarginsons managing director, said: "We are thankful to Warwick University for asking us to take part in such a worthwhile project, and we wish the students the very best for the future. "We pride ourselves on innovation, and having a committed, highly-skilled workforce, and we hope we can step-up to provide students with our help and expertise in the future."

There are a wide range of things 3D printers could be deployed to aid developing nations. For example, a handheld 3D scanner has the potential simplify healthcare imaging.

Although there are various efforts under way to create a working Star Trek-like medical tricorder, such a device isn't available for general use just yet. In the meantime, however, doctor's offices may soon be equipped a piece of equipment that wouldn't look at all out of place in the sick bay of the Enterprise. Developed by engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, it's a hand-held scanning device that provides real-time three-dimensional images of the insides of patients' bodies.

The digital scanner utilizes optical coherency tomography (OCT), that has been described as "optic ultrasound," in that it utilizes reflected light, as opposed to reflected sound, to visualize internal structures. Along with an OCT system, the device also features an integrated near-infrared light source, a video camera for receiving images of surface features at the scan location, and a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based scanner for aiming the light.

The technicians hope that the scanner could be used right as part of doctor's offices or clinics, to gauge hard-to-see-from-the-outside ailments such as ear problems. It may also be particularly valuable when analyzing diabetic patients, as it could be employed to keep track of the health of their retinas. Doing this may find retinopathy, which can result in blindness, before it progresses too far.

In addition, it is anticipated that the scanner will allow healthcare experts in developing nations to better appraise the well being of the patients than would alternatively be possible. This kind of project, in addition to the one at the University of Warwickshire can become important applications of new technologies in developing nations, today and in the near future.

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