September 23, 2016
So many different fields have benefited from by additive manufacturing (AM) that it isn’t really possible to say where the biggest impact has been felt. It wouldn’t be hard to argue that AM is a transformative technology for the medical field, where it’s been used for everything from building a better pill, to custom medical devices. One of the most common uses for medical AM is creating low-cost prosthetics.
Two years ago, Ryan Callies lost the top part of his right ring finger to an accident. Callies was helping his father move a generator when his finger got stuck underneath it. When he managed to pull his hand free, he discovered the extent of the injury. Fast forward to a few months ago, and when Cody Callies, Ryan’s brother, was asked to build a 3D printed object as part of Southeast Community College’s (SCC) Manufacturing Engineering Technology program, Cody and his classmates decided to build Ryan a prosthesis.
“I wanted to make one by myself, but a guy in class actually came up with the idea to do it as our class project,” said Cody, now a graduate. “Whenever he (Ryan) would pick up something small, like quarter-inch nuts, they would drop out (of his hand). That’s part of the reason I wanted to do this.”
Cody and his classmates originally came up with three different potential designs, and Ryan, also a student at SCC, would stop in to try on the prosthetic devices and provide feedback on the design. After some trial and error, including prototypes that either didn’t fit right, couldn’t bend or were just uncomfortable, the class was able to produce a working design.
The final product was printed on a Stratasys Dimension SST 1200es AM system in ABS plastic.
“It was cool they were together and made this finger for me. I can actually say I have a prosthetic finger,” Ryan said. “I can actually hold something in my hand.”
Below you’ll find a video about prosthetics.