Sadly, many leg amputees do not have artificial limbs, but the situation is improving. Check out the most promising 3D printed prosthetic legs!
The cost of a standard prosthetic leg is somewhere around $3,000. Despite national health care centers, which may cover the cost for amputees, many are still living without a prosthesis because of its high price.
The cost is even higher for prosthetic legs designed for cycling, running and other outdoor activities. Those can cost up to a whopping $15,000.
As with many industries where 3D printing has been successfully integrated, the goal is to reduce production costs. This is also true for the prosthesis industry. With 3D printing, prosthetic legs can be manufactured at a lower cost, making them more affordable and accessible.
Another benefit of 3D printed prosthetic legs is that amputees can choose various designs for their artificial limbs. Standard prosthetic legs aren’t very aesthetically pleasing, but with 3D printing, they can be.
A lower price could also allow amputees to have multiple prosthetics for various occasions.
In the last few years, there have been a lot of successful 3D printed prosthetic projects. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the best prosthetic leg projects.
Belinda Gatland, a British expat who lives in the UAE, lost her leg in a horse riding accident. She volunteered to try the country’s first entirely 3D printed prosthetic leg.
Gatland’s 3D printed prosthetic leg is appealing for many reasons. It is cheaper than her previous, standard prothetic, as well as more colorful and attractive.
This project was made possible thanks to Dubai Health Authority and Arab Health, alongside a number of medical companies (Prosfit, Mecuris and Mediclinic).
The Dubai Future Foundation is dedicated to implementing 3D printing in various industries. They also helped get this project going.
With 3D printed prosthetics, the UAE’s goal is to make prosthetics cheaper and more visually appealing.
For more information, read our dedicated article on UAE’s first 3D printed leg.
Natasha Hope-Simpson lost her right leg in a car accident in 2013. As a designer, she wanted to create something beautiful to fill her “negative body space.”
While looking for design for the prosthetic, Natasha came across 3D printed masks with a design she loved, from a New-York based designer. She got in touch and translated the design from the masks to her 3D printed prosthetic leg.
To make a CAD file for the prosthetic, Natasha’s right leg was scanned. This was to ensure symmetry between her right leg and her “new” left prosthetic leg.
The 3D Printed prosthetic for Natasha was printed on 3D System’s PolyJet 7000 SLA 3D printer. It took the team just 17 days from an idea to a finished (prototype) product.
A project like this really raises the amputee’s level of happiness. In this case, 3D printing was applied as a customization tool, not necessarily as a tool for cutting costs.
With the help of a number of skilled engineers and 3D designers, Natasha was able to get her very own unique prosthetic. See Natasha’s smile when she received her own, completely unique 3D printed prosthetic leg.
This is Art4Leg, a modern looking 3D printed prosthetic leg cover designed by Tomas Vacek. Instead of 3D printing an entire prosthesis, Art4Leg is designed to work with an amputee’s current, standard prosthetic leg. It addresses the fact that most standard prosthetic legs are boring from the design point of view.
The modern looking, refined shape highlights the musculature of the leg it replaces. Thanks to a clean, clever natural design, it becomes less obvious that a person is missing a leg.
This 3D printed prosthetic leg cover is held on by strong magnets. The magnets allow the amputees to easily remove the cover, and replace it with another one to suit their activities. Art4Leg is made on a Hewlett Packard industrial 3D printer and can be ordered in various specifications and colors.
SHC Design is a Japanese company with a focus on manufacturing prostheses using 3D printing technologies. Fuminori Ando lost his right leg just below the knee shortly after his birth. Ando always wanted to wear traditional Japanese sandals, but he couldn’t because his prosthetic didn’t allow it.
This started to change when Fuminori came across SHC Design, a Japanese startup which specializes in prosthetic development and production using 3D printing. In his free time, he decided to work help the company’s development processes on his own leg design.
Because he was willing to help the company, they 3D printed his new leg for free. Not only is his new leg compatible with sandals, but it also looks nearly like a real one.
The goal for SHC Design is to make prosthetics more available. They are aiming to produce prosthetics for just $100, thanks to the FDM 3D printing technology which makes the production significantly cheaper. This is especially helpful for developing countries where prostheses are in short supply. According to SHC Design, 90% of the amputees in the Philippines can’t afford a prosthetic.
If you’d like to read more about affordable 3D printed prosthetics, read our article about the most common 3D printed prosthetics.
Prosthetic legs aren’t very hydrodynamic, making swimming a rather big challenge for amputees. The FIN is a 3D printed amphibious accessory which enables the amputees to swim with much more ease.
The FIN was created in a collaboration between Northwell Health, a non-profit health organization, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Eschen Prosthetic and Orthotics, all of which are based in New York.
On the FIN’s sides is a number of holes in a cone-like shape allowing the water to pass through and create propulsion.
Because the FIN is manufactured on a 3D printer, it’s easily customisable. That means the amount and diameter of the holes can easily be adjusted for each amputee to adjust the amount of propulsion they like.
The next goal for Northwell Health is to make the accessory available to masses, especially veterans through a partnership with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you fancy reading more about 3D printed prostheses utilized in sports, check out our article about the German athlete who cycled at the Paralympics with a 3D printed leg.
License: The text of "3D Printed Prosthetic Leg – 5 Most Promising Projects in 2019" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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