It seems that almost every day I see another story featuring the wonders of 3d printed prosthetics. The stories all follow a similar script: an upper extremity amputee (typically a child) who was otherwise unable to afford a device was provided one thanks to a 3d printer and a group of students. While I acknowledge that the stories are uplifting, which is refreshing in today's world, they often fail to disclose the limitations of this "groundbreaking" technology.
The overwhelming limitations of 3d printed devices, durability and
strength, need to be rectified in order to be feasible for the majority
of the amputee community. At this time only upper extremity devices are being manufactured because the plastic is simply not strong enough for legs and feet. (With the exception of one water leg company that is commercially utilizing a 3d printed process, but I personally find the devices clunky and cumbersome.)
Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that 3d printed prosthetics will be a part of my life during the next decade. But I don't believe that my receiving a new leg will be as simple as uploading a design and printing one out. The technology is exciting, but we are still in its infancy. In this week's podcast, Dave and I discuss the benefits, drawbacks and possible future for 3d printing in the field of prosthetics.
powered by podcast garden