Benefits of 3D Printing in Prosthetics
Developments in 3D printing have changed the prosthetics game forever. Through additive and 3D manufacturing technology, bionic hands can be made more durable and affordable than ever, providing users the prostheses they deserve.
Even beyond price and durability, 3D printing offers so much more - which is why the Zeus is made using 3D printing technology. But, we know that there are still misunderstandings surrounding 3D printing, so we’ll walk you through what it entails and just how it benefits users.
3D Printing and Prosthetics
Only a few years ago, 3D printing was a new technology, and the materials used were expensive and difficult to acquire. Fortunately, 3D printing has come a long way since its invention and is now widely used in the prosthetics and orthotics industries.
We at Aether Biomedical jumped on the opportunity to incorporate this technology into our own product. In doing so, we began our journey to create the bionic hand for all: the Zeus.
By 3D printing the materials used for manufacturing the Zeus, we could manufacture hands faster, more efficiently, and more affordably. Consequently, we’re able to provide these same benefits to our users. Now, let’s get into details.
Companies worldwide are making strides toward more sustainable operations. This is an admirable goal and one that is necessary to protect our environment. In this effort, many manufacturers are switching to 3D printing, a highly sustainable method of manufacturing goods.
Compared to other methods, 3D manufacturing drastically minimizes the waste of materials and the output of carbon emissions. As materials are printed by the machine instead of subtracted from a block of material, nearly no materials are wasted.
3D printing even uses less material to begin with, and it is predicted that additive and 3D manufacturing could save up to 90% of raw manufacturing material by 2050. Many 3D printers also use recycled materials for their products, allowing them to reuse the wasted materials from other projects.
By simply switching from conventional to additive manufacturing, companies worldwide can drastically reduce their carbon footprint. As millions of prosthetic devices are manufactured each year, a switch to 3D printing will make a significant impact in terms of achieving a more sustainable future.
Quality & Consistency
Another considerable benefit of 3D printing in prostheses is material quality and consistency. The materials used in 3D printing are incredibly high-quality, making for high-quality prostheses. Durability is a significant factor to consider in a prosthetic hand, as users don’t want to use their hand with fear of damage. Fortunately, 3D printing allows for the efficient manufacturing of robust and durable materials, ensuring that users can operate their hand without hesitation.
While durable, 3D printed materials are surprisingly lightweight. As a prosthetic user, wearing your hand all day can get uncomfortable, particularly if it is a heavy-duty device. But, with lightweight materials produced through 3D printing, users can have more dexterity and comfort without compromising strength, structural integrity, or durability.
Consistency in production is also a significant component to consider for prosthetists and users. Still, both want to rest assured that the prosthetic hand is high-quality, and consistent production is a factor in that. With 3D printing, the printer can be programmed to ensure a consistent level of quality.
As developments in prosthetic technology improve, prosthetists are continuously finding new ways for users to customize their hands. One aspect of customization pertains to the aesthetic appearance of the hand. Many users choose to embrace their prosthetic hand, often through visual self-expression.
3D printing helps users achieve this by offering more options in terms of design and color. As materials are easier to come by in 3D printing, prosthetic manufacturers can provide more customization options to users, allowing them to find a hand that suits not only their needs but also their personality.
Another aspect of customization includes the functionality of the hand itself. Beyond typical day-to-day functions, each user has unique needs that they wish for their hand to fulfill. Whether an athlete, artist, or professional, users should be able to adjust their finger movements to suit their needs. Fortunately, 3D printing also makes this possible.
In addition to other technologies, 3D printing makes manufacturing flexible and dexterous fingers possible, providing users with greater movement. The Zeus, in particular, comes with 12 custom grips, each of which can be individually customized to suit a user’s needs. As Zeus’s fingers were printed to be agile and precise, they can seamlessly conduct the customized movements programmed into the hand.
Perhaps the benefit most pertinent to users is affordability. Conventional prosthesis manufacturing can be quite expensive, which then drives up the price of the product for users. But, when 3D printing is used for manufacturing, costs can be significantly reduced. Consequently, users have more options for affordable prostheses.
This aspect of 3D printing was especially appealing to our team at Aether Biomedical. With one of our defining goals being to create a bionic hand for all, affordability was a significant component of making our hand accessible to all users. With lowered manufacturing and production costs, we made the Zeus an affordable bionic hand option for users - without skimping on quality or functionality.
The reduction in prosthesis costs thus significantly increases accessibility, ensuring that users of all backgrounds can afford the hand they need. We believe that no one should be denied access to all of the independence and autonomy that a prosthetic hand can bring. In offering an affordable, high-functioning, and multi-articulating hand, we hope that all users will be able to benefit from the Zeus.
The Future of 3D Printing
Developments in 3D printing only seem to be evolving, meaning that these benefits will only grow. As 3D printing becomes more accessible and more widely used, we anticipate that prosthetics manufacturers worldwide will begin to embrace this technology. In doing so, users will benefit from even more innovation in prostheses.
Until then, we at Aether Biomedical will continue to take advantage of this technology and share its benefits with our users. As innovators, we are continuously looking for new ways to improve our product and help upper limb amputees across the globe.
Moving forward, we hope to continue creating sustainable, affordable, and high-quality bionic hands so that everyone can experience the independence and autonomy that the Zeus delivers.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Zeus or joining the Zeus community, visit our website.