3D Printing is more than just about fashion. It is a technology with the potential to challenge the old ways, by providing new solutions to everyday problems. One of the areas benefiting from this tech advancement is the manufacturing of prosthetics.
Outdated and in much need of a fresh approach, prosthetics are a life saver for over 2 million amputees in the US. According to TheAmericanGenius.com, 185,000 new amputees happen every year, and shockingly quite a large number of these people cannot afford to buy prosthetics tailor made for them.
The main reason why prosthetics are not affordable is because some of them need to be made by hand, which involves assembling, fitting, adjusting and fitting them again. This means that replacements, especially for growing children, can quickly become a financial burden. Luckily, designer William Root might have just found a solution.
Root, founder Exo Prosthetics, wants to make prosthetics not only more affordable, but also aesthetically pleasing. He plans to do this by producing titanium 3d printed limbs created using a 3D scanner. The scanner he uses will collect information from the individual’s limb, which will ensure that the completed prosthetic will fit the wearer perfectly. The final product is then printed with titanium, a light but durable metal, known to not cause allergic reactions to the body.
What we love about Root’s innovation is that it allows the wearer to customize their prosthetic in a way that will complement their personal style. The 3D printed limb will not only benefit the wearer physically it will also help them psychologically by strengthening their self esteem.
Gone are the days when amputees need to “make do”, individuals can now design their prosthetics and make their faux addition a part of who they are. A great example of a person who has benefited from 3D printed prosthetic is art student Natasha Hope-Simpson. She lost a leg in a hit-and-run accident in November 2013. Like many amputees, she was issued a standard prosthetic leg, but she found the functional prosthetic unattractive. Working with Thinking Robot Studios her life changed. She was given the opportunity to scan her other leg to produce an accurate model of the missing limb. The next step was that 3D printed panels were produced to create an artificial limb that matched her original shape precisely. How amazing is that?
So with those words, I find myself respecting 3D printing technology that little bit more. Like a blossoming flower, it is turning into a powerful tool that can be used to change someone’s life for the better. Isn’t that what technology should be about? Positive change? Well, I am sure that dramatically reducing manufacturing time and cutting the cost of production in half, means that 3D printing will change how industries manufacture their products, and honestly I cannot wait.