Another day, another exoskeleton. Designed to help paraplegics to walk again, ReWalk™ is the product of Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies, Ltd. Massachusetts based SolidWorks Corp, whose 3D CAD software was used to develop the device, is reporting about the exoskeleton:
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 a lot of 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 standardized on SolidWorks for all new product development, including a range of medical, consumer, and equipment products for customers like General Electric, Phillips, and Comverse. Taga used SolidWorks to design the ReWalk based on a rough prototype from its inventor, Dr. Amit Goffer. SolidWorks gave engineers the time and capability to discover innovative approaches to translating the original prototype into a working model.
SolidWorks simplified design iterations and helped ensure accuracy as engineers constantly refined concepts to accommodate variables such as leg brace length, joint angle range, and the amount of pressure the joints can withstand. SolidWorks’ mass properties functionality enabled Taga engineers to see exact weight calculations as they designed the exoskeleton to be light enough to maneuver. COSMOSXpress™ allowed engineers to 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, makes collaboration easy and smooth. Having teams work on native file formats also reduces costly and time-consuming errors.
The ReWalk exoskeleton is currently undergoing clinical trials. Taga expects it to be ready for general availability in 2009.