It would be insulting to say that 3D design and 3D printing has made an artist out of everyone with the money to afford it, but it certainly has brought new levels of creativity to a number of fields that used to be cost prohibitive due to the fact that only professionals could approach these niches and bring something good and useful out of them. Such is the case of people with disabilities, most specifically the people who as result of an injury, a birth defect, or any other cause is lacking a limb or mobility.
Solving the problems of many using new technology with some imagination
Many people saw immediate potential as 3D printing technology emerged. Some of them have wasted no time creating new body parts to cover for the expensive prosthesis that usually cost thousands of dollars. The offerings are not coming exclusively from big companies.
Some of the most functional prototypes are being created by regular people with basic knowledge of engineering and anatomy. As you may expect this has changed the playground for the prosthesis market for the good by making them more accessible and you forcing the people with the big money to invest in the field to offer enhanced solutions. Such as mechanized hands using servos and sensors to allow mobility.
The miracles start to become noticeable
The stories of success of people overcoming their own limitations to become successful or even ambassadors to a new approach to life are staggering and impressive in some cases. One of the most notable ones is Christopher Hills a young man in Australia with cerebral palsy and quadriplegic that is only able to control his neck muscles on his own.
After putting his mind at work, he was able to conceive a special switch that allows him to control his wheelchair a will as well as giving him full control over most of the computer devices he’s adept to using when it comes to handling tools and software for his own Video-Editing Service.
A new approach to non-profit organizations
Stories like these are the ones pushing a number of foundations to pursue another means of help to people with disabilities. Is almost a call to action to use this technology instead of donating money to companies promoting research that could take years to offer palpable results? With 3D printing technology, many of these non-profits organizations are able to study each individual case to create the right device for disabled people and their unique condition.
An organization named AbilityMate has been doing just that in the last few years. They point out one of the most easily solved cases they managed to help in record time: a quadriplegic woman riding a high-end wheelchair she was not able to use properly because it was not fixed to his hand movements.
The company managed to fix the problem by designing and casting out a special joystick that she could hold with her limited movements that allowed a new lease of freedom. While it might not sound special, the fact is that the non-profit saved money to the disabled women who were on a 6-month waitlist by the manufacturer of her wheelchair to get a custom-made solution that would have cost her $1,000.The 3D printed solution didn’t cost even a $100 in the end.
There are thousands of tales like this out there, inspiring stories of people embracing this technology to do some good. As an enthusiast, would you have the guts to do something like this to help?