The Next Wave In Prosthetics – 3D Printing
In high school Nanette had a prosthetic arm made of plastic. She wore it because she felt it made her look more “normal” and kept her from being called out. She didn’t have any finger movements. In fact, nothing made it special. I sometimes think of her and wonder if she’s upgraded to what’s available today.
Prosthetics Made By 3D-Printers
We all crave to be human. When we lose an arm or leg, our capacity for feeling human diminishes. That’s why I am so pumped about 3D printing. In addition to creating an arm merely two-days after scanning the wearer, the companies also create the socket so it fits comfortably. Wires attach to the body so the arm and hand are controlled by the body. And here’s the good part. The cost of a robotic arm is 1/10 of the cost of standard prosthetic limb.
Disney has recently gotten involved with Open Bionics to make prosthetic arms more appealing for children. Open Bionics make Frozen, Marvel, and Star Wars character arms and sells them royalty free for $500. The kids have something that looks good and functions like a normal hand.
Grabbing things is only part of the issue. What about touching something? Researchers in Australia have decided to look into how the human arm communicates with the brain. Their goal includes creating a signal that would mimic the process synthetically, essentially using microchips to aid communication between electrodes implanted in natural tissue.
These are breakthroughs that we should talk about. 3D printed bionic arms (and legs) give people the chance to be human again.