SLS-ASSIST: Medical aids in the 3D printer

Independently and individually adapted products for rheumatism patients

Individual pen holder

The finished product from the 3D printer.

3D printer in action

Rheumatism help: The object is applied layer by layer.

Project aims

As part of the SLS-ASSIST project, participants design medical aids adapted to their own needs and produce them using modern decentralized production techniques.


Recently, 3D printers based on selective laser sintering (SLS) that are suitable for non-industrial use have also become available at an attractive price. The technology is characterized by better material properties, more details, higher production rates, and an unsupported structure compared to the fused deposition modeling used previously. Modern 3D printing and laser cutters enable the fast and decentralized production of high-quality products – such as aids for people suffering from rheumatism.
Patients often suffer from limited mobility or joint pain, especially in the hands. A variety of aids can relieve pressure on the inflamed joints and thus make everyday life easier. In most cases, these must be individually adapted. So far, there is hardly any possibility of directly implementing one's own ideas for an aid. SLS-ASSIST offers exactly this opportunity. Interested patients can become active themselves independently of ready-made solutions and thus regain some self-confidence and self-determination.

State-of-the-art digital production processes

Classes in the open workshop DEZENTRALE Dortmund impart the necessary knowledge and introduce you to the new technical possibilities. One’s own ideas are first converted into digital designs by means of CAD software or a 3D scanner. During the next step, real objects are created. State-of-the-art digital production processes are used here. The researchers at Fraunhofer UMSICHT are simultaneously investigating the use of alternative materials on desktop SLS printers.
The knowledge gained is made available on an open platform. This guarantees a better, inexpensive supply across the board. SLS-Assist will greatly expand the selection and quality of tailor-made aids. The experience gained will be incorporated into other public participation projects.

Duration: January 2017 to June 2018
Funding code: 13N14274