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3D printed prosthetics for a pain-free experience

A pain-free prosthetics for amputees pitch had wowed judges at New Zealand’s Techweek 2019, which resulted with winning the ultimate start-up prize pack worth NZ$ 60,000.

According to a recent press release, a pair of engineering students from the University of Auckland won for their prosthetic limb solution that uses a 3D printing process and recyclable material.

Benefits of the 3D printed prosthetics

The prosthetic that they will produce is predicted to reduce the pain points for amputees, while being 58% cheaper and 67% faster to make.

The majority of amputees suffer pain, discomfort, and frustration caused by their prosthetic socket, where the prosthetic connects to the limb.

The reason behind this pain is poor fit. The current process creates sockets that are hard and inflexible.

The Prosthetex founders saw the problem and developed an idea for a solution with the use of the 3D printing framework.

Their ProstheteX sockets are designed to be flexible on the inside, which will better fit the amputee’s limb.

Starting a prosthetics revolution

While 3D printed sockets are already in existence, the students believe there is room for huge improvements as new materials and processes such as 3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), are being rapidly developed.

The University of Auckland’s Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing Laboratory is already at the forefront of this technology.

Professor Olaf Diegel, the academic supervisor of both, also leads the Laboratory.

Their concept was also supported by the University’s innovation community including UniServices and the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Founders Hatchery.

The founders believe that they are starting a prosthetics revolution and would greatly help the amputee community.

Their ambitions are eventually global. However, in New Zealand alone, there is already a community of around 4,400 amputees, with around 500 new referrals each year.

A bit of history

Inspiration for this prosthetic prototype came from the experience of one of the students as a part-time farm animal assistant.

He shared that seeing many injured animals got him thinking about how he could help through prosthetics.

Challenged with the difficulty of getting feedback from animals and knowing whether the solutions is actually helping them, he and his co-founder moved to human prosthetics.

Hopefully, they might be able to transfer their new knowledge and designs to animal prosthetics again in the future.

ProstheteX was named the ultimate start-up during the ON: Pitch event held during TechWeek 2019, New Zealand’s nationwide festival of technology and innovation.

The winner was decided upon by both the judges and the audience, awarding them more than NZ$60,000 worth of business necessities to make their pitch a reality.

An office space is included in their prize as well.

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