3D Printing: Making Prosthetics at Home

3D printers from companies like Makerbot are helping to bring home the dream of printing our own 3D objects. They currently are out of range for most consumers at about $2000, but this price will come down in a matter of time.  Unfortunately, this amazing technology only makes the news when it is used negatively, like printing guns to make political points. 

NPR has a positive story about using 3D printing technology to help children born without hands.  The video below shows a cute example of the final result.


Richard Van As, a carpenter who mangled his hand in a work accident, and Ivan Owen, a creator of bendable puppet hands, put their minds together to create a crude version of a mechanical hand prosthetic. After that, the article states:

He emailed MakerBot, a firm that makes 3-D printing equipment, to see if the company would help out. It did, offering both Owen and Van As a free 3-D printer. "Then there was no stopping us," Van As says.
What had previously taken the pair a week's time or more — milling finger pieces, adjusting and tweaking parts — now took 20 minutes to redesign, print and test.

They posted the design and instructions for Robohand on Thingiverse, a website for sharing digital designs. Anyone can download the plans and — with a 3-D printer and about $150 in parts — make a hand.

Thingiverse is a great example of using a social networking site to spread innovative ideas across the world. Props to Makerbot for giving the duo a free $2000 printer to help realize the dream. Such positive uses of technology should be celebrated and given as much news as negative ones. Especially since we're going to all need 3D printers once light sabers become all the rage, as shown in the video below.


This post also appears on TWIB.