Life with a prosthetic leg can be cumbersome. Many of us who are fortunate enough not to require such a device have no idea about the issues which need to be overcome by those fitted with a prosthetic. You don’t just slip the prosthetic on and go about your daily life, care free. An individual wearing a prosthetic device has to always be on-guard for unforeseen events.
Take for instance a puddle or jumping into a pool or the ocean. Normal prostheses are not made to get wet. The metal components are very susceptible to rusting and getting a wet socket isn’t exactly first on the list of things an amputee wants to experience.
Jeff Huber, an engineer and life-long amputee, wanted to change all this, and has thus turned to 3D printing in order to do so. Huber has founded a company called Standard Cyborg, which 3D prints waterproof leg prostheses, called the Water Leg, for under $500.
Standard Cyborg works closely with a client’s prosthetist or directly with the clients themselves to get the exact dimensions of their current prosthetic device. Once the exact dimensions are calculated it’s now time to model the Water Leg and send it off to a high-end 3D printer to get fabricated. Standard Cyborg then uses an aerospace-grade carbon fiber material coating to ensure the strength and safety of the device for the amputee wearing it. Within days the new leg is shipped to the doorstep of the client.
The legs are incredibly robust and are not create to replace an amputee’s current prosthetic, but instead to act as a backup and specialty leg for when the user plans to traverse through, or submerge themselves in, water. Examples of use would be for showering, bathing, swimming in a pool or other body of water, or simply walking along the shoreline. Equipped with a Vibram non-slip sole, the leg will put it’s wearer’s, and their family’s, minds at ease.
The Water Leg is also perfect for around-the-house use.
“Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and other simple household activities can be very time consuming and a real pain, especially if you have complicated suspension,” states the company’s website. “We all know what a pain it can be to take your limb off, get comfortable, then realize you forgot something!”
The Water Leg, on the other hand, can be put on in under 10 seconds, making it the perfect device for doing quick simple tasks around the house, avoiding the need to put on a more time-consuming prosthetic.
The company hopes to expand further throughout the year with plans to develop Water Legs for above-the-knee amputees as well. Additionally, they are considering creating waterproof prosthetic arms sometime in the future. For those with a below-the-knee amputation who are interested in the Water leg, they are available for immediate ordering for just $499. Those interested in an above-the-knee Water Leg will need to wait until later in 2015, but a $50 deposit can be made to reserve your spot. This deposit will equate to a $100 credit once you are ready to order your prosthetic.
Let us know your thoughts on yet another incredible use of 3D printing within their prostheses industry. Discuss in the 3D Printed Water Leg forum thread on 3DPB.com.