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naperlou
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Printing repacement parts...
naperlou   8/21/2012 8:55:52 AM
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Beth, this is a great story.  With the advancement of electronics and design software, the missing piece was manufacturing.  As another great example of the power of 3D printed objects this is very encouraging.  After all, if you can make a receiver for a gun with 3D, you should be able to make good prosthetics. 

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Printing repacement parts...
Beth Stackpole   8/21/2012 9:16:41 AM
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Love that last point, Naperlou. Absolutely, 3D printing is advancing to cover all ends of the spectrum in terms of manufacturing. In terms of medical technologies, it's really had an impact even beyond the manufacture of custom prosthetics. Check out our slide show on 3D printing in the medical sector.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Printing repacement parts...
Rob Spiegel   8/21/2012 12:08:48 PM
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Nice story, Beth, especially the part about Emma's magic arms. That's an impressive example of the use of 3D printing. Were the magic arms an addition to her actually arms (as in joint replacement)?

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Re: Printing repacement parts...
Greg M. Jung   8/21/2012 4:38:16 PM
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Yes, I also agree.  An inspiring story about Emma that really drives home the point on how technology breakthroughs can have such a positive impact on people's lives. Since the cost of 3D printing has come down so much, I imagine that new arms could also be printed again should the current ones wear out or become damaged.

Charles Murray
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Re: Printing repacement parts...
Charles Murray   8/21/2012 9:31:10 PM
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What a wonderful story. If Oscar Pistorius' performance in the Olympics taught us anything, it's that prosthetic limbs needn't be a handicap. I really do believe that technology will eliminate all disabilities by the end of this century.

Scott Orlosky
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Platinum
Re: Printing repacement parts...
Scott Orlosky   8/21/2012 11:15:38 PM
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It's great to see these types of advances taking place.  Just in the same way that high performance cars eventually see their developments embodied in the consumer versions - I hope that these techniques eventually become available to the average consumer. What a boon to veterans, the disabled and the aging.

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Re: Printing repacement parts...
Beth Stackpole   8/22/2012 7:50:46 AM
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Rob: Magic arms is actually just a pet name she gave to the prosthetic device that helps her now have control over her arms to do everyday things like play and feed herself. It is more of a term of endearment to show her enthusiasm for new mobility.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Printing repacement parts...
Beth Stackpole   8/22/2012 7:53:43 AM
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@Greg: That's actually a point I didn't spend time on in the post, but a real lifesaver for Emma's parents. There is obviously wear and tear on the device, particularly as Emma gains in mobility. With the 3D printing approach, her parents can simply contact the research/medical team and explain what part is broken (take a picture if need be) and a replacement can be easily and cheaply produced. Minimal downtime, which is a great thing for Emma.

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Re: Printing repacement parts...
Beth Stackpole   8/22/2012 7:56:25 AM
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With prices on 3D printers coming down and with materials and other related technologies vastly improving, I do think capabilities like these will become easier and more accessible to mainstream medical practices, aiding in their adoption.

kellerbl
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Silver
Inspiring
kellerbl   8/22/2012 10:00:49 AM
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I can see that it would be great to work in this field. I have a 4 year old grandson born without one arm - not even a shoulder. I have wondered if it would be possible to fit him with a wrap-around vest that a prosthetic arm could be attached to. The hand on his one arm has only a thumb and two stubby half fingers. This handicap is apparently due to his arm and hand being pinched off during development by the amniotic membrane. He is a very happy child who doesn't yet recognize he is so different from others and he naturally uses his feet when one hand can't complete a task. He may never need a prosthetic to get through life, but it would be something worth checking into.

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