The 3D-printing medical breakthroughs of the year (so far)

By Norbert Sparrow 
Published: April 13th, 2015

It has already been quite a remarkable year for 3D printing in medical applications. The technology has been instrumental in helping an octogenarian successfully undergo a valve replacement procedure and, on the other end of the age spectrum, brighten the life of a toddler with a rare facial deformity. In this slide show, we highlight four real-life examples of how 3D printing has enabled medtech advances, and one emerging technology that may usher in tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

Conventional prosthetic limbs are tremendously expensive, which is a real problem when the recipients are children, who will outgrow them every couple of years. Enter 3D printing, which can produce prosthetic devices for less than $50. (A remarkable organization called e-NABLE, which brings together volunteers specializing in the creation of free 3D-printed devices for children and adults, deserves a big shout-it for its work in this field.) The Flexy-Hand – Filaflex Remix, pictured here, was produced by GyroBot’s Steve Wood, working with some members of e-NABLE, with the aim of realizing the most inconspicuous, attractive and functional 3D printed prosthetic hand possible, writes 3Dprint.com.

Printed with the skin-toned, flexible Filaflex filament, the newest iteration of the Flexy-Hand – Filaflex Remix includes a number of improvements over earlier models, including hidden finger hinges, two thumb angle variants and silent articulation. That’s for when you don’t want to call attention to your prosthetic.

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