3D prostheses feasible, but costs and engineering remain challenges

08/26/2013 | Atlantic online, The

3D printing can create relatively inexpensive, highly customized prostheses, but ensuring that the socket fits properly to the body remains a challenge. "We can print out a socket that can be used definitively, but attached to that socket is generally some sort of suspension device," said WillowWood Director of Research Jim Colvin. "To print that [component] in the same printer is not possible today." Nevertheless, Patrice Johnson, former Physionetics chief technical officer, has used 3D printing to create prosthetic arms for land-mine victims in Myanmar and Thailand. Johnson sees creating low-cost prostheses for victims in third-world countries as the next application for 3D printing.

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