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Reversing the Irreversible….with 3D Printed Prosthetics

(Last Updated On: January 18, 2019)

Originally posted in Cloud 961 Magazine in October 2016)

Updated: 12 December, 2017

Imagine reversing the irreversible, creating hope for those who had none and making it easier and more affordable for people to survive after having an amputated leg, a missing hand or a fractured skull.

Well, 3D printed prosthetics are not only bringing hope to war-torn children in Sudan, but they are also transforming lives. Back in September, a Chinese farmer who damaged his skull in an accident has been treated with this 3D printing technology where part of his skull was replaced with  a 3D-printed titanium prosthetic. The accident had left his skull dented and had affected his eyesight too; he was unable to talk or write.

However, two weeks after the surgery, his head had returned to its original shape; the scarring had gone and he was able to function as normal. Many people too are starting to help themselves by watching youtube videos that enable them to build their own affordable prosthetic.

Such was the case of Paul McCarthy, a Dad whose son was born without fingers on the left hand. Since he could not afford paying tens of thousands of dollars for a factory-made prosthetic hand, Paul decided to print one. While surfing the net, he had come across Ivan Owen’s youtube video, a video that showcases how to design and build a prosthetic hand for a 5 year old. Paul immediately got to work using his son’s school 3D printer. Luckily, with some online help from Owen, the father was able to create a prosthetic hand for his son; he also came up with a plan to teach kids at his son’s school how to print hands for others who needed them.

Not only are these 3D printed prosthetics cheaper, but they’re also more functional than the normal prosthesis. Delgado, a 53 year old who had always been using a $42000 myoelectric prosthetic hand  had the chance of trying a $50, 3D printed Cyborg Beast hand, made of ABS plastic.

To his amazement the 3d Printed Cyborg hand functioned better than the myoelectric one. He noted that with the 3D one he could flex all fingers, while with the old traditional expensive one he could only flex 3 fingers. Moreover, when driving he always had to adjust the myoelectric one at the joint; however with the 3D one there was no problem; its grip seemed better for driving too. Sure it might break every once in a while, but at least it’s immediately replaceable.

Nothing seems impossible for 3D printing, even actual 3d printed kidneys are being transplanted. So whatever your problem is, be it a disfigured face, nose or ear, you can always order one from Fripp’s company or another.

Also published on Medium.

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