3D Printers Deliver Competitive Alternative to Traditional Prosthetic Limbs
San Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations builds and sells custom-designed prosthetic human body parts created from 3D printing machines. The printers generate limb casings wrapped in embroidered leather, metal, or other materials.
A custom prosthesis was printed using 3D SLS equipment.
Company co-founder Scott Summit built a scan-ning device to examine limbs using a camera. After the scan, a detailed image is transmitted to a computer and Summit begins sculpting his limb art. He uses a 3D printer to create plastic shells that fit around the prosthetic limbs, and then wraps the shells in any flexible material the customer desires. Then the custom prosthesis is printed using 3D Systems Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) equipment.
He and his orthopedic surgeon partner Kenneth B. Trauner build test models of complete legs that have sophisticated features such as body symmetry, locking knees, and flexing ankles. One artistic design is metal-plated in some areas and leather-wrapped in others. “It costs $5,000 to $6,000 to print one of these legs, and it has features that are not available in existing prosthetic legs that cost $60,000 today,” Summit said. “We want people to provide input and select their options,” he added. “It’s about going from the Model T to something like a Mini that has 10 million permutations.”
This artificial leg was generated from a 3D printer at Bespoke Innovations.
The two entrepreneurs hope to open a studio where they will sell the limb coverings and experiment with printing whole custom limbs that could cost one-tenth of comparable artificial limbs made using traditional methods.