Advances in 3D medical printing are quite amazing. Here are some recent articles on 3Ders.Org.
3d Printed Hand
Jose Delgado Jr. Jose, 53 year old, was born without most of his left hand and in the past year, he had been using a prosthetic hand that costs $42,000, which he paid about half out of pocket. This myoelectric version uses the muscle signals in his forearm to trigger the closing or opening of the fingers, like a real hand would.
Jose visited e-NABLE member Jeremy Simon and asked if he could help make a 3D printed prosthesis for him. Created by Jon Schull, a researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology, e-NABLE pairs children and adults with missing or deformed fingers, hands or forearms with makers who produce customized 3D printed prostheses that can improve their lives.
Jose has been using multiple types of prosthetic devices for years, so he's very familiar with what can or can't be done with them in terms of day-to-day functionality. To his surprise, Jose said he actually prefers the 3D printed Cyborg Beast to his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis.
Jose claims that the simple, mechanical design of Cyborg Beast is even more comfortable and provides more day-to-day functionality than the expensive version. And if a piece breaks, he could simply print a new one in a few hours.
A typical prosthetic hand from a company will run you more than $10,000, but materials for a 3D printed hand can cost less than $50. The design, research, development and prototyping time for these 3D printable limbs designs has been donated by many individuals in the e-NABLE community, a group of 700 people globally. The design is open source and thus no rights have had to be purchased to use or make them. Therefore it is possible to produce a partial hand for a cost of less than $50 as compared to a retail device with a price of thousands.
Jeremy says he is working with Jose on printing another new hand and this time using a material called Bridge nylon, which is stronger than the previous material and also light weighted. "I'll also be providing him with an alternate thumb mount that will enable a different kind of grip." Jeremy said.
3D Printed Arm
Students at the Washington University in St. Louis has built a robotic prosthetic arm for thirteen-year-old Sydney Kendall who lost her right arm in a boating accident when she was six years old.
Using a computer program and a 3D printer, Kendall Gretsch, Henry Lather and Kranti Peddada, seniors studying biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, created a robotic prosthetic arm out of bright-pink plastic. Each part of the robotic hand and arm is made individually. It took about 20 minutes to print the small parts, and an hour to make larger parts. The whole project took about 13-15 hours to print. Total cost is only $200, while normally a prosthetic would cost a minimum of $6,000.
The students developed the robotic hand as part of their engineering design course with associate professor of physical therapy Joseph Klaesner. With guidance from several medical practitioners including orthopedic hand surgeons Charles A. Goldfarb and Lindley Wall, they built the prosthetic out of bright-PINK plastic, as request by Sydney.
"They brought their engineering expertise, and we shared our practical experience with prosthetics and the needs of children," Goldfarb wrote in a recent blog post about the project. "It was a valuable experience as Kendall, Henry and Kranti had no prosthetic experience and were able to think about the issues in a very different way."
After the accident, Sydney learned to write with her left hand, but found most tasks difficult to accomplish with her prosthetic arm. On the other side, the new 3D printed arm is very easy to manipulate. By moving her shoulder, she can direct the arm to throw a ball, move a computer mouse and perform other tasks.
Peddada said it was thrilling to observe Sydney use her arm. "It really showed us the great things you can accomplish when you bridge medicine and technology," Peddada said.
Sydney's new arm has motor and working thumb, which set it apart from similar "Robohand" that has been widely adopted. A sensor worn on the shoulder detects motion, and sends a signal through a cord to a micro controller chip which activates little motors that control the fingers and thumb. The prosthetic is powered by a nine volt battery.
There are lots of fascinating 3-D printing articles on 3Ders.Org.
Recent topics include 3d-printed handguns, mouthpieces, masks to avoid surveillance, car parts, better bike wheels, and dura matter (a thick and dense inelastic membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, serving for the protection of the brain.)
Inquiring minds may wish to investigate further.