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The $100 3D-Printed Artificial Limb 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
harrymcc writes "In 2012, TIME wrote about Daniel Omar, a 14-year-old in South Sudan who lost both arms to a bomb dropped by his own government. Mick Ebeling of Not Impossible Labs read the story, was moved — and went to Sudan, where he set up a 3D printing lab which can produce an artificial arm for $100. Omar and others have received them, and Ebeling hopes that other organizations around the world will adopt his open-source design to help amputees, many of whom will never receive more conventional prosthetics."
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The $100 3D-Printed Artificial Limb

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Someone producing a medical device at basically the cost of goods price.

    • Re:Fancy that... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:04PM (#45892235) Homepage Journal

      Don't worry, big pharma will lobby for and get regulations against anything so convenient and affordable.

      • Lets not forget lawyers suing 3D printers into oblivion for medical malpractice. Hmm... perhaps we can convince those lawyers to keep big copyright from killing it first. Maybe we could do the same thing with gun manufacturers, get them to keep congress from passing laws against 3D printed guns (to immediately be applied to anything else they might want to ban) so that the gun manufacturers can sue after someone prints up one of their copyrighted guns.

        Then we get the two remaining groups to somehow tak
      • by magarity (164372)

        There's not that much of a business regulatory environment in South Sudan.

      • > Don't worry, big pharma will lobby for and get regulations against anything so convenient and affordable.

        When a similar article first got posted about this a few months back, I sarcastically suggested he be thrown in jail for not getting permission for human experiments. I got downmodded, no doubt by people who love the combination of having an FDA and deliberately looking the other way in warm-and-fuzzy cases like this.

        I guess it's how you phrase it.

    • by SumDog (466607)

      Well I doubt it's near the quality of an engineered, titanium prosthetic. But it's a start, and if the plans are open source, other designers could improve them, on their own time, for free, out of the kindness of their hearts.

      Over time, we could even see ABS plastic prosthetics with the same level of engineering as the $100k versions, and maybe by then we'll even see cheaper 3D metal printers and home built CNC machines. It could change everything.

      Of course, it'd be nice if we could stop seeing poor people

  • I misread it as "Artificial Lamb". I was thinking, that's pretty lame if you are too much of a loser to get the real thing.

  • by CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:04PM (#45892239)

    but I'm going to go ahead and say that there is some organization that believes it has the right to require testing, certification or some other factor that will increase the $100 limb to the $10,000 limb.

    • by mlts (1038732)

      Malpractice insurers?

    • by PSVMOrnot (885854) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:23PM (#45892411)

      The beautiful thing about this is that while such certification and testing may be required of manufacturers and distributors of such products, there is nothing that can be done to stop you from building one yourself or with a few friends.

      There are others [robohand.net] who have also traveled this path, and a number of open source designs available for anyone to have a go at: Robohand @ Thingiverse [thingiverse.com], Prosthetics @ Thingiverse [thingiverse.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:17PM (#45892351)

    ...building my own girlfriend.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:25PM (#45892439)
    It would be interesting to know how long these printed artificial limbs will hold up compared to a conventional prosthetic limb. It would also be interesting to know how much a conventional prosthetic could be made for w/o all of the overhead. I realize that in the US there's a ton of money dumped into testing, trials, FDA approval, lawyers and fear of being sued. But why can't conventional prosthetic limbs be made in countries like this without all of the legal BS? Obviously they can be printed w/o it. I don't know what the average yearly wage is in Sudan, but $100 could be a rather sizable amount of money. Regardless, good for Mr. Ebeling for trying to make a difference.
    • About two weeks pay.

      Average annual inccome for Sudan is $2400 U.S.D. > $46,000 in the States.

    • It would be interesting to know how long these printed artificial limbs will hold up compared to a conventional prosthetic limb. It would also be interesting to know how much a conventional prosthetic could be made for w/o all of the overhead. I realize that in the US there's a ton of money dumped into testing, trials, FDA approval, lawyers and fear of being sued. But why can't conventional prosthetic limbs be made in countries like this without all of the legal BS? Obviously they can be printed w/o it. I don't know what the average yearly wage is in Sudan, but $100 could be a rather sizable amount of money. Regardless, good for Mr. Ebeling for trying to make a difference.

      I only know the consumer end of it.

      Obviously there is overhead - the prosthetist has an office, staff, equipment. Then there's the work and expertise - there's a lot of custom fitting and casting involved, especially with the sockets. Usually multiple appointments and fittings. Then of course the parts that aren't custom come from a supply chain, with markup along the way. And there's the insane markup from it being something covered (to some extent, with some insurances) by insurance and government program

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Well over a decade ago I saw a video of a guy with an inexpensive polymer artificial leg with a knee joint climbing a tree. That's the sort of possibilities and since these things have to be sized to fit 3D printing makes sense.
    • It would be interesting to know how long these printed artificial limbs will hold up compared to a conventional prosthetic limb. It would also be interesting to know how much a conventional prosthetic could be made for w/o all of the overhead. I realize that in the US there's a ton of money dumped into testing, trials, FDA approval, lawyers and fear of being sued. But why can't conventional prosthetic limbs be made in countries like this without all of the legal BS? Obviously they can be printed w/o it. I don't know what the average yearly wage is in Sudan, but $100 could be a rather sizable amount of money. Regardless, good for Mr. Ebeling for trying to make a difference.

      The other thing to consider is that this makes prosthetics for children (who have this annoying tendency to grow) MUCH easier -- I'm sure someone could even design a limb that is designed to be expandable, so that you only have to re-print a few key parts as the child grows, instead of having to make a new limb every year.

    • My wife has a high-tech wooden leg, so I'm familiar with how long they last, about five years. I also have a 3D printer, but I've never considered printing a leg socket. I'd expect the fingers in this hand to eventually break, as the wearer tests the limits. Fortunately, printing a single component is not expensive at all.

      The idea of using the 3D printer to make the fiddly bits is excellent. It's also possible to use regular materials to make limb pieces. PVC pipe has been used in India.

      In the long run,
  • Durability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:26PM (#45892441)

    I wonder how long those limbs last under the hard use they will be put through.

  • How movements of this artificial limb are controlled?
    • After you put on your suicide-bomber jacket, you attach the limb. Sheesh --- newbies.
    • Not all artificial legs need control over the movements.
      If the prosthetic leg starts below the knee there is little need for an active joint. Keeping balance while standing still will require training though.
      If the hip joint is intact the user can throw the foot forward to get the leg where he wants it. Then the user can stand on it and the pressure on the leg can lock the knee.
      It isn't easy to walk this way but it can be done and beats having nothing or something that doesn't fit, which is often the ca
  • i hope there will be a time, when we'll be able to print artificial brains for politicians.
  • So when someone says it would cost an arm and a leg, we now know that is $200.
    Thanks for the info!

    On a more serious note, anybody have an update on
    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2011/may/22/joshua-silver-glasses-self-adjusting [theguardian.com]
    Did this project take off?

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