Certified prosthetists Tyler Dunham and Tyler Manee have taken to Kickstarter to help fund a new, large-scale 3D printer that will help them bring fast, low-cost, 3D printed prosthetics to their patients. The duo, henceforth referred to as The Tylers, already have an orthotics and prostheses practice, so all they need to get started is the $9,000 cost of a 3D printer.
3D printing is gaining steam as a logical and obvious way to lower the cost, decrease material waste, and speed up fabrication time of prosthetic limbs. It has already been used frequently to create hundreds of low-cost replacement hands. Unfortunately, the build envelope of most affordable 3D printers is too small for most of the important, structural parts of a lower limb prosthetic, requiring more expensive, large bed, 3D printer options.
Sadly, most amputees in the country are lower limb amputees, and, as of yet, there are very little options for creating prosthetic replacements for legs available using standard desktop 3D printing. Many of these amputees are returning military veterans, who often need to wait months, even years for customized prosthetic limbs made via traditional methods. The Tylers have spent the last two years researching the feasibility of using 3D printers for prosthetics and think that they have functional designs ready to be printed. All they need is a printer large enough to make their them a physical reality.
The Tylers are experts in the field of prosthetic fabrication: both are ABC board certified orthotists and prosthetists and hold Masters of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics from Georgia Tech. They also regularly travel to Haiti and Belize and help bring prosthetic limbs to populations that typically would be unable to afford them. And, from their rather charming Kickstarter campaign video, it’s difficult not to want to helm them out.
They’ve already pulled in about a third of the $9,000 that they need to fund their new printer, so this should be a an easy project to get funded, if enough people are in the giving mood. There doesn’t seem to be a profit motive for The Tylers, as they have promised to share all of their findings, designs, and fabrication methods with anyone who wants them, free of charge. And 3D printing the prosthetics would only cost a few hundred dollars a piece, making them quite affordable. Compare that with the thousands of dollars that prosthetic devices from the mainstream medical device industry cost now, and, suddenly, a lot of people who did not have access to prosthetics will be capable of getting one.
The Tylers have some great rewards depending on how much you support their campaign, including: a 3D printed bottle opener, a 3D printed prosthetic leg keychain, and a 3D printed, custom face mask. Of course, you’ll also be helping two people dedicated to making the lives of amputees better carry that help on to a greater number of people. Sounds like a pretty good reward to me, all on its own.