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Titanium prosthetic limbs can now be 3D printed – you go, science!

(TECH NEWS) 3D printing is often seen as a novelty, but it’s literally transforming the medical world, even altering the future of prosthetics.

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3d printed leg

Science is rockin’ it!

Don’t underestimate the potential of 3D printing. While plenty of useless trinkets are being manufactured by 3D printers, the emerging technology is also being applied to challenging problems desperately in need of fresh ideas.


One problem is the outdated manufacturing of prosthetics. Over 2 million amputees live in the U.S., and 185,000 new amputations happen each year. This is a significant portion of the population, yet many are unable to afford prosthetics.

Manufacturing prosthetics is extremely expensive

Specialized technicians are required to manually create handmade pieces that are assembled, fitted, adjusted, then fitted again. Children with missing limbs must be refitted for new prosthetics as they grow, creating a massive financial burden for the family.

Designer William Root aimed to make prosthetics affordable, easier to produce, and more aesthetically pleasing. So he created Exo Prosthetics, which produce titanium, 3D printed limbs. First, a 3D scanner collects information from the residual limb of the wearer, ensuring the finished prosthetic will be customized to fit the body.

exo

Next, modeling software is used to design the limb

The wearer can customize the limb to match their particular fashion sense. Amputees can benefit physically and psychologically from wearing a prosthetic limb, but robotic appearances of current models can negatively affect wearers self-esteem. The added bonus of customization is especially helpful for amputees to overcome the psychological stress of wearing a false body part.

In the past, amputees were stuck with odd, mechanical looking prosthetics. With 3D printing, people can design their prosthetics to look how they want them to. Then, the prosthetic is printed with titanium, a light but durable metal that generally doesn’t cause allergic reactions to the body.

3D printing dramatically reduces manufacturing time and cuts the cost in half. 3D printing also allows unprecedented customization. This is just the tip of the iceberg -the only limit is our imagination.

exo

#3dlimbs

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Joshua

    December 2, 2016 at 10:05 am

    So much misinformation.

    First, the fitting process cannot be fully automated. You still require someone who understands the fitting process to scan, adjust, fit, and continue to adjust the fit as the patient’s limb and needs changes. Someone has to pay for the advanced software and know how to use it. Someone has to pay for the office space this will be fit in. Someone has to pay for the expensive titanium 3d printer that will still only make SOME of the prosthetic device.

    Second, the cost is NOT reduced to the cost of materials, and never will be. Someone still has to assemble it, fit it and adjust it. In the picture in this article there is a microprocessor controlled ankle – these are incredible expensive for this part alone, not including the cost/time of someone knows how to set it up and educate the patient as to how it works. This price goes up significantly for an above the knee amputee that would need a knee joint – these range anywhere from 5k-50k or more for the newest technology. The tech and programming in these microprocessor parts greatly assists in keeping patients safe and reducing the risk of falls. These need to be set up by someone who has been trained in their use.

    Third, the “Exo” mentioned in this article is actually only replacing a part of an actual prothesis. The parts it replaces are actually some of the less expensive parts, and the cover aspect of it is often not covered by insurances. It looks awesome, and has a place, but it is simply not a full replacement for a prosthesis, and could actually lead to a MORE expensive prothesis.

    Fourth, the “someone” I keep mentioning in this article is a trained Prosthetist who has completed a formal education in his/her field and actually knows how to manage the care of a prosthetic patient and ensure that the patient’s ongoing needs are met. This is one of the two major costs of prosthetics that simply can’t be replaced by 3d printing or software. Period.

    3d printing is a sexy topic that everyone wants a part of. Designers like this jumping out and trying to reinvent the wheel and making false promises is misleading and leads to poor patient care. Yes it’s cool, yes its new and tech-y, and yes it will have a place in many new fields moving forwards. However the truth right now is that 3d printers are not going to make everything instantly easier and better. Casually promising vast improvements in healthcare without any proven track record is dangerous.

  2. Pingback: The Future: New 3-D Printed Titanium Prosthetics | My Word[P]ress

  3. Pingback: The Future: New 3-D Printed Titanium Prosthetics – LifeLeep.com

  4. Pingback: 3D printed titanium prosthetics. How awesome is that? – Awesomer.co

  5. Pingback: When you can 3D scan anything from your phone, what wouldn't you 3D print? - The American Genius

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Not just for gaming: How virtual reality can save PTSD patients

(TECH NEWS) Thanks to its ability to simulate situations safely, virtual reality technologies are proving effective in therapy for PTSD patients.

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Woman wearing a VR headset in warm sunny lighting, PTSD patients treatment

Over the last year, a great many people have developed a new and sometimes dangerous relationship with a new emotional state, anxiety. I know that personally I’d never had a panic attack in my life until the middle of the pandemic. For many these emotions have taken the form of actual disorders. Actual mental influences which affect everyday life on a large scale. One of the most common forms of which is PTSD.

This disorder has many different aspects and can affect people in a number of different and debilitating ways. Finding treatments for PTSD patients and other anxiety disorders – especially treatments that don’t involve drugging people into oblivion has been difficult.

A lot of these disorders require exposure therapy. Putting people back into similar situations which caused the original trauma so that their brains can adjust to the situation and not get stuck in pain or panic loops. But how do you do that for things like battlefield trauma. You can’t just create situations with gunfire and dead bodies! Or can you?

This is where VR starts coming in. Thanks to the falling cost of VR headsets, noted by The Economist, psychologists are more capable of creating these real world situations that can actually help people adjust to their individual trauma.

One therapist went so far as to compare it to easy access opioids for therapy. This tool is so powerful that of the 20 veterans that they started with, 16 of them no longer qualify for the categories of PTSD. That’s a 75% success rate with an over-the-counter medicine. I can think of antihistamines and painkillers that aren’t that good.

I’ve grown up around PTSD patients. The majority of my family have been in the military. I was even looking at a career before I was denied service. I have enough friends that deal with PTSD issues that I have a list of things I remember not to invite certain people to so as not to trigger it. Any and every tool available that could help people adapt to their trauma is worthwhile.

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Tired of email spam? This silly, petty solution might provide vindication

(TECH NEWS) If you struggle to keep your inbox clean thanks to a multitude of emails, the widget “You’ve Got Spam” could provide some petty catharsis.

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Email icon with 20 possible spam emails on phone screen.

We’re all spending a lot of time behind our computers and inside of our inboxes these days, so it makes sense that some people—not naming names—might be sick of seeing several unsolicited emails a day from marketers and other unsavory businesses.

While we can’t recommend a mature, adult solution that hasn’t already been beaten to death (looking at you, “inbox zero” crowd), we can recommend a childish one: Signing solicitors up for spam.

If you do decide to go the petty route, “You’ve Got Spam”—a free email widget from MSCHF—has you covered. Upon installing the widget, you can configure it to respond automatically to incoming cold-marketing emails with tons of subscriptions to spam sources, thus resulting in overwhelming the sender with a crowded inbox and cultivating a potentially misplaced sense of catharsis for yourself.

The widget itself is fairly simple: You only need to install it to Gmail from the MSCHF website. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive an email from a person from whom you can safely assume you’ll never be receiving favors ever again, you can open it and click the “You’ve Got Spam” icon to sign the sender up for spam lists galore.

See? Petty, but effective.

The developer page does fail to make the distinction between the promised “100” subscriptions and the “hundreds of spam subscriptions” discussed on Product Hunt. But one can assume that anyone who dares trespass on the sacred grounds of your squeaky-clean inbox will rue the day they did so regardless of the exact number of cat litter magazine subscriptions they receive.

Of course, actually using something like “You’ve Got Spam” is, realistically, a poor choice. It takes exactly as much effort to type, “We’ll pass – thanks!” as a response to anyone cold-emailing you, and you’re substantially less likely to piss off the actual human being on the other side by doing so. Services like this are heavy on the comedic shock value, but the empathy side tends to lack a discernible presence.

That said, if you absolutely must wreck someone’s day—and inbox—MSCHF’s “You’ve Got Spam” is a pretty ingenious way to do it.

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Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?

(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.

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Woman holding book and a phone, with headphones, participating in Clubhouse.

Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.

If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.

Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.

But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.

Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.

A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.

Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.

It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.

As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.

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