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posted 21 November 2016 at 15:33:47

We’ll be featuring Australian open-source inventor AbilityMate’s ingenious wheelchair toggles in Issue 106 of 3D Create & Print. AbilityMate’s designers, carers, occupational therapists and users collaborate to create 3D printed solutions that make the lives of people with disabilities that bit easier.  

The company’s latest innovation is 3D printed ankle and foot orthoses (AFOs) – or ‘Magic Shoes’, as they like to call them – for children who have problems with walking.  

Traditional orthoses manufacturing methods involve taking a plaster cast of the child’s leg, which can be a stressful exercise for all concerned, then manually fabricating the mobility aid, which can take many weeks. AbilityMate’s solution is to non-intrusively digital scan the foot in just a few seconds, ensuring a perfect custom fit for each client, then 3D print the orthoses in as little as 48 hours.  

The company launched a kickstarter campaign recently on Dreamstarter and received pledges amounting to $40,000 in just 24 hours. The goal is to reach $80,000 and, with those funds, AbilityMate will conduct material testing and user trials of 3D printed AFOs for children with disabilities; get 3D printed AFOs medically approved and, initially, start making them available to Australian children, while sharing their information with the world and open-sourcing their research, designs and manufacturing processes.  

We’ve seen these Magic Shoes in action and they really do make a difference. If you want to help or find out more, visit:

Image: © Ability Mate/