FutureHear Project Pushes Forward with LulzBot 3D Printers and Crowdfunding Support

Share this Article

futurehearWhen it comes to determination and resourcefulness, the researchers behind the FutureHear project are a bright and inspiring example of what can be accomplished even in tough circumstances. The project, a collaboration between the Queensland University of Technology and nonprofit Hear and Say, which provides treatments and services for hearing-impaired children, aims to provide 3D printed prosthetic ears for children suffering from microtia, a condition in which the outer ear is underdeveloped or missing.

While FutureHear represents an important development for the medical world and a source of hope for thousands of children, the Australian government unfortunately doesn’t seem to feel the same way. When we took a look at the project a couple of months ago, the FutureHear team was feeling left out in the cold by the Australian government, which had declined to give them much-needed funding to take their product to the next level.

futurehear_team_0

(L to R) Dr. Sean Powell, Maureen Ross, and Mia Woodruff.

Instead of giving up, FutureHear turned to crowdfunding instead, launching a fundraising campaign on Pozible in hopes that the general public would prove more understanding and supportive than the government. With three days left in the campaign, the team has raised $26,342 of their $200,000 goal. They’re now hoping to make a major push towards their goal in the last few days of the campaign.

Phase One of the FutureHear project involves fitting children with prosthetic ears, created using LulzBot 3D printers. A photogrammetry scan of the child’s existing ear is taken with a smartphone and used to create a 3D file, which is then 3D printed as a reverse mold. Medical-grade silicone is then poured into the mold to create a prosthetic ear that matches the child’s other ear.

“3D printing allows us to make things personalized,” said Mia Woodruff, an associate professor at Queensland University of Technology. “It’s a technology that everyone’s adopting, and the [LulzBot 3D] printers are just so reliable and low-cost compared to other manufacturing techniques.”

Phase Two of the project will focus on tissue engineering to create real, permanently implantable ears, while Phase Three will work on the incorporation of functional hearing components using 3D printed bioconductive polymer materials.

lulzbot_taz_3d_printer_0

“FutureHear is about future hearing, and it’s about the future lives of these children to make them have exactly the same opportunities that all the other children have,” Woodruff said.

LulzBot printers are already being used to create the internal cartilage structure of the prosthetic ears from NinjaFlex filament. According to Woodruff, the team has been thrilled with LulzBot overall. Not only are they low-cost, which is vital for a project for which every penny counts, but they’re durable enough to stand up to a lot of use and transport.

“We were looking out for really, really reliable printers that looked good, that had a good reputation, didn’t break, and that were Open Source [Hardware],” Woodruff continued. “The Open Source [Hardware] is the huge plus factor here with the LulzBot 3D printers, so we love how accessible the company is. We take them to a lot of showcase events. We’ve taken them to at least five, and they’ve never malfunctioned, they’re easy to level, and the cost is so incredibly competitive. They are the reasons we stick with it, and we just have such nice interactions with the company.”

1473376358999-alexsmith2lowres

FutureHear hopes to change the lives of many children like Maia.

You can still donate to FutureHear’s campaign here. While the team is making determined progress with the project and will go forward no matter what, they’re still very much in need of funding for laboratory resources, new materials, and manpower, just to name a few costs. To see the project succeed will be a victory not only for the hardworking team but for children all around the world, as well as for other medical research projects and startups struggling without government funding support.

As for the government, perhaps they will take notice of the good FutureHear plans to do for children such as Maia, whose story you can see in the video below, and rethink their decision. Until then, FutureHear will push forward with the help of a generous public and the opportunities afforded them by 3D printing technology.

“3D printers are amazing,” Woodruff said. “They’re revolutionizing the world; to see how it can be used to have an impact on someone’s health and well-being is quite incredible.”

Discuss in the FutureHear forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: LulzBot / Images: FutureHear]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing: the Future of Sticks

Intelligent and Automated Post-Processing for Resin 3D Printing Launched by Nexa3D



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup, September 27, 2020

A range of topics will be covered in this week’s roundup of webinars and virtual events, starting with controlled nesting and increased productivity. Moving on, attendees can learn how to...

Featured

What Does the Siemens-Nexa3D Partnership Mean for 3D Printing?

3D printer manufacturer Nexa3D has announced a collaboration with technology company Siemens to automate its polymer laser sintering systems. Even during COVID-19, the two companies have remained committed to Industry...

3D Printing News Briefs, August 11, 2020: 3DEO, Nexa3D, AK Medical

In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, 3DEO has won a design competition, and Nexa3D will be demonstrating its expanded line of ultra-fast polymers at this week’s AM Industry Summit. Finally,...

3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup, August 9, 2020

We’ve only got four online events to tell you about this week—a summit and a few webinars, one of which is on-demand. Read on to learn more! AM Industry Virtual...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.