Tags: Veterans | 3-d printing | prosthetics

5 Ways 3-D Printing Is Improving Prosthetics

By    |   Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 04:14 PM

There are more people in the United States in need of a prosthetic limb than there are in the entire nation’s capital.

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For theseThere are more people in the United States in need of a prosthetic limb than there are in the entire nation’s capital. estimated 1.6 million people, 3-D printing limbs is proving to be an effective alternative to prosthetic implants. 3-D printing is the manufacturing of objects by a printer that successively places thin layers of material on top of one another until an entire object, such as a hand or leg, is created.

“I would like to see the creation of a prosthetic limb to be a viral app that’s usable by everyone,” Scott Summit, founder of Bespoke Innovations, a company that 3-D prints medical devices, told The Atlantic in 2013. Summit believes such an app is possible thanks to the positive prospects for 3D printing. Below are some of the benefits of 3D printing in the prosthetics industry:

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Cheaper
A prosthetic leg can cost anywhere between $5,000-$50,000 reports the Hospital for Special Surgery. Drug therapy and organ transplants are even costlier and there is no way to know until after the fact that any of these options will be effective or comfortable for the patient. On the other hand, a 3-D printed leg can cost as little as $1,800, according to Wired Magazine, and 3-D printed limbs also last longer. 

Less Painful
3-D printers lower the risk of transplant rejection because they can reproduce structures made out of cells. Thus instead of copying a model of a person’s original limb, 3-D printers produce the new limb directly off of the patients other remaining limb – right down to the fingerprint in some cases.

Safer
David Dean, associate plastic surgery professor at The Ohio State University told the U.S. News and World Report that 3-D printing is already used in cranial implants because in the past, when implants did not fit properly, “you could block blood vessels or even cause seizures.”

Longer Lasting
3-D printed limbs can also be made out of organic materials, which unlike prosthetic limbs, will not rust. Additionally, as children grow they typically need to replace prosthetic limbs. According to U.S. News and World Report, a students at Union College in New York has already produced a 3-D printed limb that can grow with a child.

Faster
3-D printed implants and limbs “can be manufactured and shipped out [to hospitals] the same day,” said Dean. Once 3-D printing become the norm, patients will no longer have to wait years and through long planning periods to replace limbs.

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There are more people in the United States in need of a prosthetic limb than there are in the entire nation’s capital.
3-d printing, prosthetics
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2015-14-03
Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 04:14 PM
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