An innovative alternative to wheelchairs designed in SolidWorks® 3D CAD software lets paralyzed people do what was previously considered impossible: stand, walk, and climb stairs.
Designed by Israeli consultancy Taga for medical device company Argo Medical Technologies, Ltd., the ReWalk exoskeleton is a light, wearable brace support suit featuring dc motors at the joints, rechargeable batteries, an array of sensors, and a computer-based control system. Users wear a backpack device and braces on their legs, and select the activity they want from a remote control.
A sensor on the chest determines the torso’s angle and guides the legs to move forward or backward to maintain balance.
“There are many challenges to design something that imitates a human walking, including universal fit for a broad range of user height and weight measurements, as well as a low profile that is both contemporary and user friendly,” said Assaf Barel, design engineer at Taga. “SolidWorks enabled us to be creative in addressing all of these challenges. The finished product is strong, compact, lightweight, and works like a human body.”
Taga chose SolidWorks for all new product development, including a range of medical, consumer, and equipment products. Taga used the program to design the ReWalk based on a rough prototype from its inventor, Dr. Amit Goffer. The program gave engineers the time and capability to discover innovative approaches to convert the original prototype into a working model.
The SolidWorks program simplified design iterations and helped ensure accuracy as engineers refined concepts to accommodate variables such as leg brace length, joint angle range, and the amount of pressure the joints can withstand. The program’s mass properties function let the engineers see exact weight calculations as they designed the exoskeleton to be light enough to maneuver. COSMOSXpress™ let the engineers test the strength and durability of different load-bearing components to ensure the exoskeleton would hold up when users bend, stand up, and climb stairs.
All of Taga’s subcontractors use SolidWorks software, which, along with eDrawings® e-mail-enabled design communication tool, made collaboration easy and smooth. Having teams work on native file formats also reduced costly and time-consuming errors.
The ReWalk exoskeleton is currently undergoing clinical trials. Taga expects it to be ready for general availability in 2009.
“The ReWalk is truly a product that will have a significant effect on people’s lives,” said Rainer Gawlick, SolidWorks’ vice president of worldwide marketing. “Making ambulatory mobility a reality for those with lower limb disabilities is a huge medical advance, and one that we are proud to be a part of.”
:: Design World ::