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Amin Hasani’s Blue Heart Hero Makes Custom 3D Printed Assistive Devices for Amputees

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Amin Hasani is the designer behind the Havenlabs utility band. Havenlabs is a nonprofit that aims to use 3D printing to aid veterans. Designer Amin now wants to take a broader approach and use his skill to aid amputees of all kinds through a commercial company Blue Heart Hero. With Blue Heart Heroes he hopes to work with the amputees themselves to develop the perfect prosthetic and assistive devices for them, their lives and their pastimes.
3D printing excels in creating specific solutions for specific problems at low cost. If you need a unique geometry, texture or functionality quickly then 3D printing is an almost unbeatable technology. Especially in polymers, we can see that in a day one can print an assistive device for a few dollars. Assistive devices need to be tough, reliable and dimensionally accurate. Creating these kinds of parts is well within the performance envelope of quotidian materials such as PLA and the everyday desktop printers that you have at home. Even a relatively simple device, tweaked well could make something like this.
The medical world has through barriers to entry and institutionalization managed to insulate itself from design and new innovative solutions. Partially this is very understandable and good we want a heavy regulatory touch and focus on safety on those products that are used in a medical context. However, this means that we get safe but one size fits all kinds of boring “medi-gray” solutions. For people who have a unique medical challenge the established system often can not provide for them. This is why 3D printing has taken such flight in assistive devices. This area often creates unique problems that require one-off solutions such as a CMU making a unique device for a Cello player or this Russian amputee who required a device to assist his freediving record attempts. Other examples include a wireless switch, an adaptable button, and a wheelchair joystick, all by assistive collective Pôle-Ergo. We even made an article on top ten 3D printed assistive devices for the disabled. In future many more medical cases and unique problems will find 3D printed solutions. Especially interesting will be the development of braces, splints, postoperative braces and to see how this percolates from richer countries to mid-tier and developing ones.

Amin Hasani now wants to make open source assistive designs for those who need them. His first customers include “a world traveler and photographer. He is publishing a book, with photos of the difficulties that amputees have around the globe. I am designing him some 3D printable attachments for his camera” Amin tells us. He aims to make custom solutions for peoples singular problems but at the same time share these designs so that many more could benefit for them. In this way, his commercial business will have positive externalities.
He mentions to that, “We don’t accept donations, we only accept funding for projects”,  “this way designers are funded to achieve better results.” What’s more, he hopes to inspire teachers to let their students take money in order to fulfill design requests. We often see things like assistive devices as either charity, something for the government to do or the realm of large faceless medical companies. By engaging the profit motive and making learning very hands-on Amin is doing something different. Ideally, amputees will become very discerning and demanding because they have to pay while students will excel because they are doing something worthwhile that pays. It may seem that a charitable solution to the same problem could be cuddlier. For some, it may also feel wrong to charge for this. At the same time, there are a lot of charities that are self-supporting bureaucracies that are inefficient and excel only in putting out ads that make us feel bad.

Why do you do this?

My mission is to identify most needed subjects and share it with colleges and have them fund their students to solve those problems. Allowing amputees to purchase designs online was a great decision because they want to be treated normally as opposed to receiving prosthetics for free as charity.

Some amputees don’t know for example they can play guitar… if they request on the website, some engineer can design them the right attachment! We’re giving amputees a chance to do anything they thought they could not do! I believe I can affect many lives world wide by giving them the opportunities they haven’t had.

What progress have you made?

So far I have designed an attachment that can apply to any kind of partial arm single amputee. This attachment is open-source, meaning that any engineer or designer can design a new attachment and upload on the website to share. I am currently working on another 3D printable assistive device that is designed for double amputees with both partial arms. To allow them to put on different attachments without another’s help. It is a very basic mechanical snapping feature. Right now I am mostly trying to invite more engineers and designers to the community and link with organizations who support amputees.

What’s holding you back?

I am a full-time H1B employee, I cannot quit my job to fully focus on this. And I haven’t discussed fund raising with any venture capital. My focus is to gather more designs and contact communities who are support amputees, to collect more requests from amputees.

What printers and material do you use?

I have a Creality Cr-10, I mostly use PLA. I am trying to save some money to buy SLA printer and print standard resin, rough, durable and flexible. I have 3 3D printers at work, I am the head designer of a company in Long Island. After I introduced 3D printing to this company, we slashed our prices by 30% and saved thousands of dollars in prototyping our new products.

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