Baltimore, MD–It’s no secret that 3-D printing is changing the game for many industries—healthcare included. From printing pills to prosthetics, 3-D technology is reshaping what is possible; even turning kids into superheroes.
Imagine being a kid that has just had a major accident and you’ve lost your hand. Three years ago, you would’ve waited months to get your prosthetic (and it would have cost your parents thousands of dollars). Today, for about $50 in material costs, you can print out your prosthetic hand using a 3-D printer. Designs for hands are open-sourced, so you can browse online to find one you like. One organization—e-NABLE, a crowd-sourced innovation group—has developed superhero hands. You can choose from ‘The Cyborg Beast’, ‘The Talon Hand’, or ‘The Odysseus’, among others. You can even use modeling software, such as Fusion 360, to design your own prosthesis. And, if you don’t have a 3-D printer, you can join a Google + group, set up by e-NABLE to find a printer near you that has been volunteered for you to use.
Clearly 3-D printing has changed the prosthetic treatment process itself. But, it’s the creative work of a network of volunteers that has helped turn a tragedy into a positive stand-out moment for a child. 3-D printing of prostheses is also being used in developing countries, especially among victims of bombings in war zones. A remarkable example of this is the work of Mick Ebeling, a film and television producer with no prior background in ocular technology, who was moved by a victim’s story and worked with Intel to bring 3-D printing resources to South Sudan.