Don't get us wrong, we adore 3D printers and the whole additive manufacturing movement. But, if all you're going to get out of the ABS-jets are some companion cubes and a raptor claw, well then, we don't think there's much hope for the technology. Thankfully there are people out there (much better people than us, we might add), who have turned to 3D printers to actually improve peoples lives. Take, for example, the tale of two-year-old Emma, born with the congenital disorder arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). The disease causes a person's joints to become locked in a single position, in Emma's case, it was her arms. There are prosthetics that can help, but most are made of metal -- including the anchor vest -- which would make them too heavy for a 25-pound girl.
Instead of going off the shelf, doctors turned to a 3D printer from Stratasys to create custom molded parts and a lightweight vest for Emma. The result: the two-year-old who once could not lift her arms is now able to play, color and feed herself. Printing the parts also solves another major issue -- Emma is growing... quickly. The adorable tot has already outgrown her first vest, but her mother just calls the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and has a new one made. The same goes for replacement parts. Should a hinge or brace break, it need only be a matter of hours (not days or weeks) before a new one is delivered. For more details check out the heartwarming video after the break.