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Cornell University researchers produce 3D printed prosthetic limbs

siliconreview Cornell University researchers produce 3D printed prosthetic limbs

Prosthetics are a boon of medical science. They mitigate many of the everyday problems faced by individuals without limbs. Artificial limbs have been around in one form or the other for centuries. In the olden days, they consisted of nothing more than a wooden stump to replace the lost limb and then evolved to take the approximate shape and size of the limb. But as fabrication and medical technology progressed, the limbs got better and better. But the problem of weight, durability, and utility continued to be major obstacles. Then came advanced artificial limbs that were embedded with electronics, motors, and levers, which allowed its users to have a range of motions and perform complex tasks such as holding an object or catching a ball. But the drawback was the cost. Such limbs cost well over a $10,000.

However, researchers at Cornell University may have discovered a solution to the pricing problem. They used 3D printed materials to design the mechanism and managed to make the prosthetic arm strong, light and maneuverable with a simplistic design, all at a fraction of the cost of many of the modern prosthetic limbs. It does not have complex systems of gears and transmission contraptions. Instead, it uses flexible cords that run along the fingers. The chords have spools which have cylindrical cores around their centers. These chords with their spools help in tightening or loosening of the fist.

However, the arm is far from getting any accreditation and further still from commercialization. But the researchers are hopeful about progress.

This could change the lives of millions of people who have lost a limb.         

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