The World Health Organization estimates there are about 30 million people who require prosthetic limbs, braces or other mobility devices, yet less than 20% have them. In addition, WHO says there is currently a shortage of trained prosthetists in emerging countries.
There is also considerable time and financial burden on patients, some of them have to travel long to get treatment. In addition to the travel, the time taken to assess their need, and get the right limb can take even longer. The result is that today artificial limbs are the most desperately needed medical devices.
Fortunately, 3D printing also known as Additive manufacturing is coming to the rescue in the Medical industry. This is not surprising, given that the rapid and cost-efficient creation of bespoke products in other industries. There are few commercial products that need to suit a wider variety of shapes and sizes than prosthetic limbs made for human beings.
One of the major success of 3D printed prosthesis is in Children, as they require new prosthetic much more frequently. As the child grows rapidly, they will need a newer prosthetic limb every year. Furthermore, the constant growth makes it difficult for the parents to fork out thousands of dollars with every growth spurt. In addition, the damage to the prosthetic limbs is increased as they are less likely to be cautious than adults.
The average costs for the prosthesis are between $1500 to $15,000. But, with a 3D printed prosthetic the costs could be as little as $20 when it is printed in large numbers. 3D printing enables the creation of lightweight, customized, and well-fitting prostheses, especially targeting growing children. In addition, 3D printed prosthetic limbs can produce a viable option for the children and their parents, helping them to live ordinary lives despite their extraordinary deformities.
The design process of 3D printed prosthesis is entirely digital, with 3D scanning and body modelling technologies followed by designing on a reliable 3D printer. The biggest advantage of 3D printing is the ability to do all sorts of customization based on the individual’s needs. The result is the creation of affordable, customized and well-fitting prostheses made for growing children.
3D printing enables a revolutionary process to enable medical device by avoiding the traditional negative impacts that are often associated with modern prosthetics through customization and cost reduction. In addition, 3D printing offers more lightweight, well-fitted devices that can be easily upgraded or replaced completely as children grow, with the addition of appealing colour and design patterns.
3D prosthetics offer amputees a substantial improvement in their daily life by providing a highly customized device which can be life-changing.