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A trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical Center (Baltimore, MD), Dr. Albert Chi (pictured) is absorbed in leading-edge research that allows amputees to use their brains to control bionic arms. When he agreed to meet with members of e-NABLE, a global organization of volunteers who are making 3D printing resources available to people in need of prosthetic devices, they were thrilled that he would take time out of his busy day to get to know their group.

Norbert Sparrow

July 25, 2014

2 Min Read
The $50 prosthetic

A trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical Center (Baltimore, MD), Dr. Albert Chi (pictured) is absorbed in leading-edge research that allows amputees to use their brains to control bionic arms. When he agreed to meet with members of e-NABLE, a global organization of volunteers who are making 3D printing resources available to people in need of prosthetic devices, they were thrilled that he would take time out of his busy day to get to know their group. They did not anticipate that he would be equally thrilled about their work. Chi was in awe over what a $50 3D-printed hand could do, writes Eddie Krassenstein at 3dprint.com. "I believe he exclaimed, 'shut the front door' more than once during our visit," e-NABLE member Jen Owen told Krassenstein.

The e-NABLE movement brings together individuals from around the world to help others in need of a "helping hand," as they like to say, by providing the tools to 3D print prosthetics. They will also print the parts for them. A conventional prosthetic hand costs tens of thousands of dollars. Compare that with a custom 3D-printed hand, which runs approximately $50. Emerging economies and especially children, who constantly outgrow prosthetic devices, are avid followers of this technology. But, the 3D-printed prosthetics are also finding first-world acceptance, and not just at Johns Hopkins.

In April, PlasticsToday wrote about Jose Delgado, who was born without most of his left arm and uses a prosthetic hand that reacts to muscle signals. It cost approximately $42,000, only part of which was covered by his insurance. Intrigued by 3D printing, Delgado had a prosthetic hand made. He says he prefers it to the vastly more expensive device, because he does a lot of lifting and moving of boxes at his job, and the 3D-printed prosthetic has a better grip and overall functionality.

More devices done dirt cheap: Would you believe bubble wrap as an IVD product? Click on the arrow below the image to find out more.

— Norbert Sparrow

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About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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