Organizations like e-NABLE have made it possible for hundreds children with missing hands and arms to receive properly fitting, functional, quality prosthetics at no charge. There are still thousands more children in need, however, particularly in the poorest regions where access to good health care is limited. Thanks to Eastman Chemical Company and Chung-Ang University, there will soon be fewer children without the prosthetics they need. A recently formed partnership between the global chemical company and the Seoul, South Korea university will result in the production of 3D printed hands for Asia’s underserved children.
Chung-Ang University has been working with 3D printing for a long time. In 2006 the university set up a 3D Digital Design Laboratory for engineering students, well before most educational institutions had even become familiar with the technology. The school recently opened a new “Creative Factory,” which features 3D printers that students and faculty will use to print the prosthetic devices. Representatives from the university and from Eastman gathered at the Creative Factory to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); the representatives from Eastman also participated in the center’s opening ceremony. The participating students and faculty from the university will use Eastman’s Amphora material to 3D print the prosthetic hands, which will be fitted and distributed to children in need through a non-governmental organization.
“Eastman is committed to making a difference in the communities where we operate and improving the well-being of the people who live in those communities,” said Dante Rutstrom, vice president and managing director of Eastman Asia Pacific. “That’s why this opportunity to work with Chung-Ang University is so exciting. We look forward to the day when children will have their lives empowered through the work that will be done at the Creative Factory.”
Eastman introduced their Amphora polymer in 2014, and it’s been used to produce filament for colorFabb, taulman3D, Triptech Plastics and 3DXTech. The styrene-free copolyester material makes sense for the manufacture of prosthetic devices; it’s strong, durable, and, most importantly, FDA-approved for applications involving food contact.It’ll be interesting to see the results of this collaboration. It’s sobering to think of how many kids have lost or were born without hands, arms, or legs, and even while organizations like e-NABLE work furiously to reach as many of those kids as possible, there are always more waiting. I like the idea of regional organizations coming together to help children locally. It’s become so easy – and inexpensive – to create prosthetics through 3D printing; it’s often a matter of location that keeps many children from being able to access the devices they need. Imagine if there were more partnerships like the one between Eastman and Chung-Ang University, specifically dedicated to assisting children in regional locations. Efforts like this around the world could go a long way towards helping kids even in the most remote areas. Discuss your thoughts on this great new program in the Eastman 3D Printing Prosthetics forum over at 3DPB.com.