Providing prosthetics in developing countries can be challenging because of the lack of technology and support. Two students at Texas A&M University may have the potential to make prosthetics quicker, cheaper and more accessible.

On campus, Brandon Sweeney and Blake Teipel have discovered how to make prosthetic body parts using a 3D printer.

“With a typical 3D printed part, it’ll just peel apart between the layer, so it’s a pretty fragile piece, but for this technology, with the coating, as you print the layers you heat up the whole part and cause fusing to happen all across the entire component,” says Teipel.

Their new invention is increasing in demand. Teipel says, “Globally, every 30 seconds, there is a new amputee.” Most prosthetic options, however, are extremely expensive, sometimes $50,000 or more.

With their new discovery, they believe prosthetics should not be this expensive. “At the very basic level, the materials cost and the time it would take to make it? $20,” says Sweeney.

As products become more affordable, it is that much more possible to make them accessible for those in developing countries.

“Next generation materials are making it possible for us to address problems that have so far been too expensive to technologically advanced, especially for the world’s poor,” says Teipel.

Several large companies are interested in their technology and the pair hopes to team up with one who is socially conscious and believes in doing good.

Kelsey Parrotte

Photo: Flickr