3D Printed Prosthetics hand developed at 3Dexter Laboratories.
With technological evolution being the trend in recent times, nothing seems impossible. Every problem of mankind can be solved through technology. It has always existed to make things easier for us. One such amazing example is the development of 3D printed prosthetics. Our physical disabilities cannot be controlled, but technology can definitely make things better as we can use it to overcome the barriers imposed by injury-based amputations. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of children with congenital and traumatic body amputations or reductions. Although myoelectric and mechanical prosthetics are available, but due to the complexity and high cost of production, they are not accessible low-income, uninsured families or to children from developing countries. A perfect solution to this dilemma is by the use of 3D printed prosthetics.
Advancements in computer-aided design (CAD) programs, additive manufacturing, and image editing software offer the possibility of designing, printing, and fitting prosthetic hands devices at a distance and at very low cost. These can positively impact lives as they will be able to perform activities that requires limbs with ease. For instance, the Cyborg Beast prosthetic hand is well suited for activities that involved the manipulation of light objects using lateral, power (composite), and spherical prehensile patterns. Conventional prosthesis costs about 4000-20000(USD) and has high maintenance problems. 3D printing can provide a cost-effective alternative to this. 3Dexter has one such prototype ready, after one year of research and design. It almost takes an entire day to design (5-6 hours) and 3D print (22 hours) the hand using flexible and non-flexible strings along with Velcro. Careful soldering of the printed structure and monitored assembling is required. Measurements have been decided and this prosthesis is bound to open new avenues for 3D printing in India. The manufacturing and maintenance cost is reduced considerably and the technology involved is both, reliable as well as trustworthy.
What is 3D printed prosthetics comprised of?
Unlike traditional prosthetics, plastic is the major component of 3D printed prosthetics. The most common form of plastic used is ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. However, where superior strength is required, manufactures turn to Bridge Nylon. The advancement in technology has ensured that the 3D printers used to create the prosthetics are compatible with materials such as titanium, which are lightweight while being both strong and durable[Source].
If this prosthetic limb development gains momentum in India, the health scenario will have completely changed. There can be no better gift for children with disabilities than prosthetics which mimic the functions of arms and legs. The fitting procedures of our prosthetic hand design require minimal anthropometric measurements of the upper limbs for proper scaling and fitting. Further studies should examine the functionality, validity, durability, benefits, and rejection rate of this low-cost 3D-printed hand design.
Overcoming natural disabilities through technology is a boon for mankind, especially children, and can be furthered through better research and development. This can benefit individuals with deformities as it is the best form of prosthesis available in India. 3D printing India can work for the betterment of people, the only need is to familiarize people with the concept of 3D prosthesis. It is essential to conduct 3D printing workshops to help doctors and researchers understand the process of creation, and usage. These workshops are an ideal way for the attendees to give inputs on how to improve the prosthetics to enable a brighter future for their patients.
Change is inevitable in life, and the need of the hour is to replace conventional methods by 3D printing and ensure people unable to walk, run, or dress themselves, can do so with ease. However, care must be taken during the fitting of prosthetic limbs. The true potential of this method can only be unleashed when it is adopted in reality and does not remain a mere prototype.3Dexter is proud to be associated with this amazing research and hopes for its successful implementation in the field of prosthetics in India.