3DBaz– 3D printing prosthetics is changing the way those born with missing limbs or who have lost them due to accident, illness or war live their lives. The technology is in use today and brings life improving benefits to some of those least able to access traditional prosthetics. Furthermore, researchers are working on projects that will extend the opportunity to many others and also advance the field. These projects blend 3D printing, robotics and medicine and show how 3D printing can provide a unique solution to a real problem.
3D Printing Volunteers
One of the first projects to harness the potential of 3D printing was e-NABLING the future. e-NABLE are, “working to improve the accessibility to prosthetic hands without any drive for financial gain.” To accomplish this goal they have created an international network of volunteers who donate their 3D design skills, time and 3D printing capacity. The network endeavours to match volunteers with those in need of a 3D printed prosthetic. The growing community can access forums, designs and e-NABLE’s experience in this area. To date at least 1,800 3D printed hands have been delivered, although the actual number may be much greater as e-NABLE do not track hands delivered by those inspired by the project but working outside the network. Whether you have access to a 3D printer or not, you can volunteer to take part in the project and there is a guide on how to get involved on e-NABLE’s website.
Joel Gibbard, founder of Open Bionics, launched the Open Hand Project on Indiegogo with the aim of producing a $1000 (£630) 3D printed prosthetic hand. The campaign exceeded the funding target and raised a total of $57,152 (£43,593), Gibbard is using the money to further development of the low-cost 3D printed robotic hand and fund the work at Open Bionics. To this end, Gibbard has worked with people who have lost a hand such as Chef Liam Corbett. Corbett lost his hand to meningitis and helped Gibbard ensure the 3D design met with the needs of intended users. Publishing the Dextrus hand under an open source license was an important part of the project. “This really helps get these devices out to developing countries and places where import taxes might otherwise increase the cost of distribution,” said Gibbard on the campaign page.
The Phantom Limb Project
Open Bionics won the James Dyson Award in the UK and is now based at the UK’s largest robotics lab. From the base in Bristol, the enterprise recently created a prosthetic hand in partnership with video game publisher Konami.
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