The ReMotion Knee, a low cost prosthetic knee joint, is the latest winner of the Cool Idea! Award from Proto Labs (NYSE: PRLB), the world’s fastest manufacturer of CNC machined and injection molded parts.
A patient walks with her ReMotion knee. (Photo: D-Rev)Proto Labs launched the Cool Idea! Award in 2011 to give product designers the opportunity to bring their innovations to life by presenting up to $250,000 worth of prototyping and short-run production services to award recipients. D-Rev, designer and manufacturer of the ReMotion knee, is 2013’s first Cool Idea! recipient. Proto Labs is providing D-Rev with injection molded parts to fulfill its next round of testing. The ReMotion Knee project started in 2008 as a project in a graduate bio-medical engineering class. The class collaborated with the JaipurFoot Organization, India’s largest provider of low cost prosthetics, and later teamed up with San Francisco based designer Vinesh Narayan. In 2010, D-Rev, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and income of people living on less than $4 per day, continued the project with Narayan, who was hired on as a product manager. “About 10 million above-the-knee amputees live in developing countries, and the ReMotion Knee allows them to walk stably on uneven or unpaved terrain typical of the developing world. It also helps them return to work, and remain independent,” says Narayan. “Current low-cost knee joints are mostly single axis joints. They operate similarly to a door hinge, and although they are inexpensive, they are unstable. ReMotion uses a polycentric mechanism, similar to anatomical knees, to provide greater stability.” Today, more than 4,600 amputees have been fitted with a ReMotion Knee. As part of the Cool Idea! Award, 100 knee joints will be injection molded and used in field testing to ensure performance as manufacturing transitions from CNC machining to injection molded parts. The shift is important for maintaining quality while serving large numbers of people.