We recently posted a piece about how 3D printing has revolutionised many of our furry friends' nine lives. Today we’re going to look at how this amazing jump in technology has changed the lives of those who have lost or were born without a limb, often with incredible results.
So, sit back, relax and once again allow us to dazzle you with yet more heart-warming tales of how 3D printing is breaking down barriers wherever it finds them.
3D Printed Hands & Fingers
(Source: Enabling The Future)
‘Enabling The Future’’ is a volunteering network which comes together to allow anyone with a 3D printer to generate their own arm and hand prosthetics. You can download the various files and instructions from their website and there is a whole community happy to help with any questions you might have.
You will find various models on their site including the Raptor Reloaded. The Raptor Reloaded requires the wearer to have a functioning wrist and a palm that can adequately push against the mechanism to cause the fingers to ball into a fist. Created via a CAD tool known as Fusion 360 which can accept a wider variety of modelling formats, the new and improved model is designed to be more intuitive to create and with a plethora of enhanced qualities.
You’ll also find among the other models a single finger model known as the Knick Finger. With the ability to be heavily modified to accommodate most people’s needs from general measurements to the amount of finger segments the prosthetic has to make up for, this ingenious design can also be downloaded and created at home.
Check out the site and you’ll find many other clever designs and a lot of happy people in the comments section who applaud what ‘Enabling The Future’ have created.
3D Printed Swimming Leg
(Source: The James Dyson Foundation)
This is of course one of the more niche designs and was developed to allow disadvantaged swimmers to compete in standard swimming events. This is The Elle, designed to mimic the benefits lost to those who wish to swim if they only have one functioning leg. Swimming when you have lost one leg means that you don’t have the adequate balance to remain horizontal in the water, let alone control speed or direction and that’s where this prosthetic comes in.
The Elle, which has won awards for its innovation, has implemented 3D printing technology to allow for a highly-customised fit. The amputees remaining leg is the foundation on which the prosthetic is built, which means it is entirely unique to the wearer and at one with the rest of their limbs. The materials used during the 3D printing process were a combination of polyurethane and elastane-nylon which are perfect for water gear as they maximise buoyancy.
This isn’t one you can try at home but it’s certainly an inspiring solution to those who considered swimming in spite of handicaps.
3D Printed Limbs That Make Kids Superheroes
(Source: Limbitless Solutions)
The guys at Limbitless Solutions do some great work when it comes to 3D printed limbs, especially when it comes to children. Growing up often entails the need to ‘fit in’ and appear ‘normal’, so for children who are without a limb it’s all too easy to become ostracised and feel left out.
Before now, prosthetics have always been rather cumbersome and not always something that people, especially children, would want to show off. Limbitless Solutions took this as their starting point. Rather than just creating a prosthetic that tries to be as unnoticeable and as indistinguishable as possible from a regular limb, Limbitless instead go very much the other way and create prosthetics which kids actively want to show off.
With 3D printing, the ability to customise and tailor a limb to make it feel much more like an extension of the individual, rather than an addition, is much easier and allows for self-expression that wasn’t previously possible.
You’ll find various examples on their website but a few include Alex, whose arm has been designed to look just like iron mans and Julianna who has an arm customised to resemble the UCF Cheerleading Teams Mascot, Knightro.
3D Printing: Changing Lives
These are just a small number of examples of how 3D printing is revolutionising prosthetics and minimising the limitations faced by those people who are disadvantaged. With the technology advancing at this phenomenal rate we predict that this will only get more sophisticated and better able to accommodate more complicated cases.