The no. of limb amputation surgeries performed in the U.S. is about 200,000 a year. The cost of replacing an amputated part with a prosthetic has been cost high amounts and at times out of the reach of an average family. The life of a replaced part is 5 years on an average and this average decreases in the case of children due to wear and tear.
The availability of 3D design and printing for lost body parts has brought about a viable solution of manufacturing cost –effective parts. The traditional process of developing a prosthetic limb that would earlier take months can now be speedily made with a 3D printer in a very short span of time. Every human’s body parts are different and the parts have to be custom made so that they can perfectly fit the wearer’s body.
The Enable Community Foundation is an open-source community which has global volunteers that make efforts to help people to use the 3D printing technology to create prosthetic hands which cost only $50.
Body Labs is a 3D scanning company that can scan body parts to create images that can be used for 3d printing. Hugh Herr from MIT has introduced innovative methods like the propulsion systems, integrated sensors, and high- efficiency algorithms to create prosthetics that mimic natural maneuvers with increased efficiency. In near future, these limbs would be devised in a fashion that they would be able to follow commands of the brain and body by giving natural touch as an input, which would be known as the predictive method.
More durable and lightweight metals like titanium are finding their use in this technology. These compatible materials will provide more comfortable sockets for the prosthetics to fit in perfectly and be more naturally synced to the human body.