Tech Crunch reports on the further adventures of 3D printed technology.
This time, seven-year-old Hailey Dawson, who sports a 3D printed hand, has recently thrown the first pitch for World Series Game 4. This is her third major league first pitch.
Dawson’s 3D printed prosthetic was developed by a research team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She “was born with a rare condition called Poland Syndrome, which left her missing three fingers on her right hand.”
As with many other kids with 3D printed prosthetics, Dawson and her family soon discovered that often traditionally manufactured prosthetics can be prohibitively expensive. “Many insurance plans won’t cover the $25,000+ to supply them for children, deeming them ‘unnecessary.’ Children quickly outgrow the devices and the cost starts to add up. It’s a hole in the healthcare system that has been tackled by a number of groups in the 3D printing industry, including not-for-profits like the Open Hand Project.”
As in many other situations, 3D printing a prosthetic limb “dramatically reduces the manufacturing cost and allows for much easier part swapping, should something become broken or its wearer just grows out of it.”
In the Dawsons’ case, Hailey’s mother Yong “reached out to their local University, UNLV, to ask if they’d be able to help create a custom prosthetic.” As Chairman of UNLV’s Mechanical Engineering Department Brendan O’Toole explains, “additive manufacturing has made it possible to provide low-cost prosthetic devices for children like Hailey. We can now make a few measurements of a child’s hand, process them through our custom design tool that generates 37 CAD models in a few minutes, and then have printed parts ready the next day.” O’Toole and his team utilized a Stratasys 3D printer.
Stratasys’ Jesse Roitenberg put it best: “that’s the beauty of 3D printing. It’s not just printing the next rocket or the dashboard of a Ford. It’s being used to improve lives.” As for Dawson’s first pitch at World Series Game 4, it went off without a hitch. Her 3D printed arm that night was even custom fitted with Houston Astros colors.
Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch