3D printing prosthetic limbs have become a thing and now it’s my turn to immerse myself in this concept and try and help people with partial limbs live life to the potential that was taken from them!
Over the past 4 hours I’ve attended the first of the 3D workshop and haven’t stopped thinking, what if we were able to 3D print prosthetic limbs (at this point I’m focussing on arms) and work on how it can become more accessible and beneficial to those burdened with a disability as a result of partial growth or amputee. I did some research and “One out of every 100 or so babies is born with some kind of obvious defect or deformity.” (http://hesperian.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/en_dvc_2009/en_dvc_2009_12.pdf) The website goes onto say that children should be given prosthetic if possible by the age of 3 years old. GREAT! Brilliant! That’s exactly where I want to go with this! A young child is born with a partially developed arm, we can modify and specify to the needs and help them learn to use it from the start of their co-ordination skills, allowing them to barely be impaired at all! There’s these guidelines and ideas all over the place in today’s technologies but no one really is confident enough to put them into a plan. That’s where the “Digital Artefact” is going to be useful…
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also states “…Nearly 80,000 people had an amputation as a result of an injury (in 2012) which shows the demand for products like the 3D Prosthetic limb. The pricing of the regular prosthetic limb can cost anywhere from $5000 to $50 000 depending on size and quality of the material. This in comparison to the starting $75 approx. print that 3D printing enables, makes the point I’m looking to explore in why these things aren’t replacing normal prosthetics. In a blog before I talked about Robert Downey Jnr. giving a needing young boy and Ironman replica bionic arm, this along with all the mechanical materials cost just $450.
Lets think big. In the development stage of my endeavours, I’ve contemplated what some might argue as unrealistic and crazy ideas for the future of prosthetics, including introducing robotic and innovative technologies after the conceptual 3D print. For example, rallying engineers and the like around UOW and beyond, (perhaps at iC) to include USB port in these arms. A bottle opener. New watch-phone’s are coming out and I thought to myself, why not save them the wristband and just include it into the arm? Even a Wifi Router! Why not?! The rate at which technology is progressing why not give it a try, the worst case scenario is that people knock my offers back and tell me why it’s not possible, which then just gives me more chance to improve the product. There is an organisation called The Collective Project, whereby in the U.S students are honing their skills in mechanical engineering and 3D printing to do similar things to what I’m going for, and were behind the Tony Stark video.
I’d love to visit the visual arts students of UOW and organise them to help me paint the prints to specifications that young people (and even adults) design. If a child (and again or adult) wants a Darth Vader Robotic paint-job on his 3D prosthetic then this can be arranged, boosting their confidence with the tool. All of this progress will I’m hoping be on a YouTube channel i create and hopefully interact with people that can use my ideas.
As this introductory and planning post comes to a conclusion, this video is of a man born without his left hand, and is given a 3D print (much like what my first prints will be like) as opposed to a regular prosthetic.
Australian Bureau of Statistics http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1301.0~2012~Main%20Features~Health%20status~229