3D printing? Are we seeing the future?

Need a new leg? Print it. Need a new arm? Print it. Need a new wheelchair? Print it. Or how about repairing some damaged nerves? Yeah that’s easy.

3D printing, is fast becoming the answer to some pretty big questions. For those who don’t know, 3D printing involves robotic devices creating objects out of different materials with varying properties. Virtually any shape, any size with different properties can be created if you have the right equipment.

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As a sci-fi fan at heart, the very premise gets me giddy. In my mind, I have already began to leap forwards from 3D printing to full blown replicators (that’s a Star Trek reference). I know, I know that’s pushing the current state of play far too far, but hey, a geek can dream.

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All my fanboy dreams aside, I am seeing more and more evidence that we should take 3D printing seriously. Not only are designs intricate and robust, but the cost of materials is often quite cheap. Intricate, robust and cheap? Sounds like a good deal to me.

And just as others are waking up to the market value of additional/changing needs, it seems so too are the printers. Here a couple of examples:

It was reported on Wired this January that some clever kids in Cambridge, Massachusetts have been hacking the thing. Mohammad Sayed a student at the specialist engineering college NuVu, decided he wanted something different from his chair.

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They came up with a design that utilized a lever system so that Sayed could use a rowing motion rather than a traditional push. A concept that seems to be gaining some traction amongst designers. What is interesting is the students managed to source many of the materials for a few dollars and use 3D printing techniques to build them.

The results are impressive from the point of view that it would interesting to see what more experienced heads could do. The students freely admitted that they encountered problems that more experienced heads would have easily been able to overcome. I hope that we will see genuinely talented designers give something similar a go in the future.

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For something a little more space aged, we need look no further than this 3D printed arm cast. Designed by Deniz Karasahin, a Turkish industrial designer, Osteoid Medical cast has the unique ability to disperse ultrasound waves across the injured area allowing for an accelerated healing process. The design also has great ventilation, which will reduce the irritation and smell commonly associated with other types of casts. As a added bonus, it looks good to. You can read more here.

 

It doesn’t take an incredible leap of imagination, to imagine a world where well designed casts change lives.

Still not convinced? How about this….

A boy just got a NEW functioning arm for $350! Using 3D printing technology, the young lad from Florida can now throw, grip and manipulate objects for less than it costs to fly from the UK to the US.

Most of all, what I like about what those students did is that they said, “you know what, it shouldn’t have to cost you a kidney for a arm.”


That is what we’re all about at Ethos Disability, you have a right to great products and services, and most of all, you should be able to afford them. 3D printers around the world, we salute you.

 

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