Researchers Develop 3D Printed Prosthetics through Recycled Plastic

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 23:49

A team of German researchers is developing a process for creating affordable and custom fitted 3D printed prosthetics that they hope will soon be accessible to remote and war torn parts of the world.

According to DW reports, the project, called 3DPro, has been recognized as one of Germany’s 100 “Landmark in the Land of Ideas” projects.

The research team, made up of researchers from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Fachhochschule Lübeck and led by Dr. Christian Zagel, is developing a process for creating affordable and custom fitted 3D printed prosthetics that they hope will soon be accessible to remote and war torn parts of the world.

The system is designed so that it can be easily by operated even by those without extensive technical knowledge. The individuals in charge of making the 3D scanning interface as user-friendly and intuitive as possible are Prof. Dr. Monique Janneck and Adelka Niels from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Applied Sciences in Lübeck.

For the production aspect of the prosthetics, the research team has envisioned manufacturing the prosthetic limbs on standard relatively low-cost 3D printers using filaments made from recycled plastic, such as from plastic cups. The plastic prosthetic stem, which comes into contact with the patient’s limb, will also be lined with a soft silicone material for optimal comfort.

So far, the German research team has already completed its first prototypes for 3D printed custom prosthetics and they are currently testing a variety of materials to determine which ones are best suited in terms of durability and strength. The software for the 3D body scanning process is also still in development, though the researchers are confident they will be able to produce their first prosthetics for patients as early as 2017.

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