Hi-Tech & Custom Designed 3D Printed Prosthetics

Description : 

The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes. We know that there are already 3D printed hips and knees in use in the medical field. Nowadays it is manufacturing with a mouse click instead of hammers, nails and, well, workers. 

Advocates of the technology say that by doing away with manual labor, 3D printing could revamp the economics of manufacturing and revive the industry as creativity and ingenuity replace labor costs as the main concern around a variety of goods.

It takes a story like this one to really bring home the idea of how this technology changes lives. Traditionally, amputees have been offered one-size-fits-all prosthetics - functional but not particularly attractive. Now technology is blurring the line between medical devices and sculpture.

US designer Scott Summit is using a 3D printer to create a customised type of cover for a prosthetic leg.

He said: "I was always amazed it (the prosthetic) never looked like the sculpture I thought it should. They looked very utilitarian, like they came from engineers. They solved the mechanical function very well but they didn't really address the human part of the equation. And I thought that perhaps this is where design really wants to come in and change things, make things so that you see it first thing in the morning and you get excited because you can't wait to show it to the world."

The person's existing leg is scanned and the shape of the prosthetic cover is created. It can be customised with different materials - leather, chrome, heavy-duty plastic - some people even choose patterns, snakeskin or a tattoo.

Once the 3D computer scan is complete, the printing begins, building up very thin cross sectional slices until the final piece is complete. Much of the more aesthetic designs coming out of 3D Printers these days, are things that could not have been made by anyone just 10 years ago.

With 3D printers in the public sector the custom nature of products has gone further than ever before. The technology may eventually make these kinds of prosthetics more accessible. We love seeing this life-changing technology and i think there should be a Nobel prize for this!

*by andreascy*