While the vast majority of us have no idea what it’s like to go through life missing an entire limb or a portion of one whether due to congenital issues, amputation, or an accident, we may have caught a glimpse into the challenges one might face as we broke or sprained an arm or a leg and were forced to adapt very quickly to a new lifestyle, even if it was just temporary. During an episode like that, it’s perhaps sometimes easier just to forgo recreation like swimming rather than springing for a fiberglass cast with a liner or an alternative material that allows for moisture. But if you were dealing with the challenge of a lost leg, walking and running are probably something you’d like to do again, as well as swimming — especially since it is a peaceful exercise you can do without any sort of devices to get around, offering complete freedom and relaxation.
Recently, Shawn Jones, the recipient of a Shapeways Education Grant from spring of 2016, completed a 3D printed prototype which would allow those in need of a prosthetic to enjoy an all-in-one device for walking, running, and swimming. While of course there are prostheses available for basic locomotion, up until now most of what has been available for swimming too was a separate flipper device that could be added on. Jones invented a device operating as a prosthetic flipper-foot hybrid that can not only be used in the water for both diving and swimming but also serves as a conventional ‘land-use’ prosthetic too.
The designer already had a vested interest in seeing a concept like this come to fruition as he is not only a SCUBA enthusiast who also worked with amputees while in the military, but he is currently a SCUBA diving teacher through Operation Blue Pride (OBP), a nonprofit organization through which he received his own SCUBA training. Jones offers his SCUBA diving instruction as a way for veterans to cope with the resulting stress from time spent in combat. These veterans may now be quadriplegic, have suffered amputations, or be blind. With the program through OBP, vets have both the accessibility and affordability to enjoy SCUBA and clear their minds underwater.
Upon winning the grant from Shapeways, Jones will be able to take his work one step further, quite literally. The Shapeways Education Grant offers designers up to $1,000 so that they can realize a concept ‘pushing the boundaries of 3D printing.’ This is an extended effort from the world-famous 3D printing service bureau and marketplace, supporting innovation with 3D printing technology. Twice a year they offer this grant which allows for up to $1,000 in printing credit for unique student projects. (If you are interested in applying, the next deadline is October 31, 2016.)
For this project, Jones has to learn about 3D digital design. He began with his 2D sketches and then figured out how to use 3D modeling to get to the next stage. Not only that, he’s already completed a second prototype for the prosthetic and hopes to have a fully developed and functional project available to the public by the end of this year. According to a recent blog by Shapeways, Jones will be using the $1,000 grand to launch the design for the all-in-one prosthetic that hopefully will allow many in the future to enjoy walking and running, along with the serenity of swimming and diving underwater.Shapeways]