3D printing is the latest hot topic in the world of prosthetics. While 3D printing doesn’t eliminate the need for traditional prostheses, it does creates a new opportunity for prostheses to be developed in ways that never existed before.
Take the case of 17-year-old Diego Corredor, from Colombia. Diego lost his hand at birth, and while there is much technology out there for prosthetic hands that can help him with common tasks, such as picking up and holding things, Diego’s goal was to play the guitar.
The true magic of 3D printing is that a customized prosthesis can be designed, then be produced anywhere that there is a 3D printer, at a fraction of the typical cost. Diego’s prosthetic? It cost around $50, instead of the thousands of dollars a traditional prosthetic hand can cost. Moreover, Diego’s new custom hand can hold a guitar pick and allows him to pick and strum the strings – something challenging, if not impossible, with a traditional prosthetic hand.
However, perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of 3D printing, in general, is that people can design new ideas and then share them with others who can build upon those ideas. If you can dream it and design it, it can likely be printed relatively inexpensively. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too surprising that people from around the world are turning to online design and 3D printing companies, non-profit organizations, and networks that provide and share 3D print services, and files.
In Diego’s instance, he worked with Columbian-based 3D design company 3Dglück, who helped create a prosthetic arm design designed solely for helping him learn to play the guitar. Diego was not looking for a prosthetic that looked like a regular hand, but rather something that would let him play the guitar and was inspired by the aesthetics of his favorite bands – and that is what he got: something very modern, complete with the name of his favorite band, Linkin Park, that allows him to hold and manipulate the guitar pic by rotating his arm.
The best part about 3D print and design companies, such as 3Dglück, is that once a design is created, that design can now be available for anyone else to purchase, customize, and print for their own use.
Now, the prosthetic hand that allows Diego to rock, can be the starting point for the next person who is looking to design a custom prosthetic hand.
Click here for more information on 3Dglück.
Click here to visit 3Dglück’s Facebook page and see more footage of Diego using his prosthesis to play guitar.
Photos courtesy of 3Dglück.
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