3D printing is making a huge development around the world, it has proven that it is a great way to provide accurate design and useful products for consumers.
The giant German car manufacturer BMW has recently though about exploiting the 3D printing technology, but not to sell products for consumers, BMW wanted to protect its factory workers who have to make repetitive tasks that requires using their hands, specially their thumbs.
Factory workers in BMW, specially Vehicle Assembly plant workers are always using their thumbs to make assembly line tasks that requires strength and pressure, which
always cause strain on the thumb joints and leave a pain in the worker's thumb.
The solution that BMW came out with is to print 3D custom plastic thumbs depending on the workers hand size , they are printed individually by scanning each worker's hand in a mobile hand scanner. The orthotic is designed to be flexible when wearing and using it, it will fold and move like a normal thumb to make the assembly worker comfortable and enjoying the work without pain and fear of strains.
To make this product in alliance with the Department of Ergonomics at the Technical University of Munich, BMW used a combine of hard plastic and soft silicone called thermoplastic polyurethane.
A little improvement in the way of working, but a big positive results can occur specially with the positive feedback of BMW's assembly line workers that likes this idea and found it helpful to them.