3D printed prosthetics: how 3D printing is helping millions of people around the world
3D printing technology can be used in almost every industry in the world and is revolutionizing so many sectors, but this is especially true in the medical field.
When prosthetic limbs were first created, they seemed like something that came out of the future or a science fiction film. With technology constantly evolving and changing, it is now possible for people with disabilities to obtain quicker and much less expensive prosthetics by using 3D technology. 3D printed prosthetics are functional prostheses of different body parts and are changing the front line of medicine. How exactly does this work?
3D printing is a process that allows us to turn a digital file into a real-life three-dimensional object: first you create a virtual design of the object you want to build, by using a 3D modelling program. The program will then slice the model into horizontal layers which are then uploaded into the 3D printer. The printer then creates the model, one layer at a time.
3D printed prosthetics can bring many advantages, such as:
Reduced cost – 3D printed prosthetics are much more affordable than regular ones and this makes them more easily accessible to everyone.
Much quicker to produce – Regular prosthetics can take weeks or even months to be created but a 3D printed one can usually be created in just one day. When all you really need is a 3D model of the object and a 3D printer, the manufacturing process can be quick.
They are versatile – 3D printed prosthetics are created to suit the person that will be wearing them and can be easily customized, as 3D printers can manufacture almost any shape.
They are comfortable and durable – Studies have shown that 3D printed prosthetics are usually much more comfortable to wear than regular ones. Not only that, but they are resistant and last longer than regular ones.
Easy to replace – If you consider how fast children grow, for example, it is easy to understand why the reduced cost of 3D printed prosthetics, and how easy they are to create, is so appealing. Regular prosthetics would not be so accessible to someone who outgrows the limbs so quickly.
Making regular prosthetics is notoriously expensive and time-consuming, with the added difficulty that any required modifications to the prosthetic render the original molds useless. The fact that we can now use 3D technology to create prosthetics, makes this process much quicker, inexpensive, and accessible to everyone.
Manchester Metrology Ltd is a leading supplier of metrology equipment including 3D scanners, 3D trackers and 3D printers. Manchester Metrology has 4 top of the range 3D printers available to hire or use as a service – these include Project 460 Plus, Figure 4, Fabpro 1000 and Markforged 2.
In addition, Manchester Metrology also supplies the Snapmaker. This 3D printer has a 3-in-1 software which allows your stunning creation to be just a few clicks away. The Snapmaker updates regularly with new features to enable users to have a great experience on using it. You can see it in action here.