Disaster Relief: ‘Field Ready’ & ‘Bold Machines’ Create 100% 3D Printed Prosthetic Hands & More
When disaster strikes, humanitarian aid is a high priority. This was especially true recently in Nepal, and several years ago in Haiti. These poverty stricken nations simply don’t have the resources needed to deal with large disasters, and even though aid workers from around the world are sent in to help, this usually is not enough.
One organization which has certainly been making a name for themselves when it comes to providing aid to nations going through these horrible events is Field Ready. They have made it a goal to find a solution to difficult aid efforts particularly in remote areas with low resources. Recently with a project that has been put forth in collaboration with several other organizations and companies, Field Ready has been working on finding solutions to bringing aid to those in need, with the help of 3D printers which basically remove the need for transportation, and increase the speed at which various products can be brought to fruition.
Field Ready, which has recently been working in Haiti, has begun utilizing MakerBot 3D printers in order to create everything from umbilical cord clamps to fully 3D printed prosthetic arms.
A relatively unknown fact is that neonatal umbilical sepsis, which causes as much as 5% of newborn fatalities in Haiti, requires the average clinics throughout the country to be equipped with an average of 50 clamps each to meet demand. Unfortunately, donations of clamps are quite pricey to supply, and the transportation of them can easily be disrupted. Because of these issues, Field
Ready is training clinic works how to use 3D printers in order to fabricate their very own clamps. These clamps are hygenic, very inexpensive and can be 3D printed to meet exact demand.
Recently with the help of Bold Machines, Field Ready also has begun trying to find solutions for those individuals who lose hands and arms due to disaster. While there are plenty of 3D printed prosthetic hand designs floating around the internet, most of which have been created and iterated upon by a group of volunteers called e-NABLE, there still remains one major issue — getting these hands to those in need, and then finding and sourcing the other parts and tools needed to assemble them.
“The primary goal was to have a fully 3D printed prosthetic hand that did not require any screws, nuts/bolts or tools to assemble (as those items could be impossible to source in remote areas),” Robert Steiner, General Manager of Bold Machines tells 3DPrint.com. “We used fabric strips and elastic bands cut from shorts for the testing. The secondary goal was to make the files accessible for development/design changes by others – so it could be improved and modified for specific needs.”
Bold Machines and Field Ready have apparently succeeded in creating a prosthetic hand that can be entirely 3D printed on MakerBot Replicator 3D printers, on-site in these impoverished countries. Their prosthetic hand design was created in zBrush by Jose Alves da Silva for use as a development platform for Field Ready to utilize and others to iterate upon. As you can see in the photos provided, it is quite an interesting design, one which certainly borrows some ideas from other currently available designs.
This isn’t the end for Field Ready or Bold Machines though. Both are constantly trying to innovate on their techniques of 3D printing, trying to bring the technology to more and more people globally. In fact, Field Ready now is looking into recycling their own filament using a specially designed filament extruder. This will allow the various products that are fabricated on their 3D printers to be ground up, melted down, and reused several times over again.
In Haiti alone, Field Ready has successfully been manufacturing dozens of 3D printed products a day on just a few printers, and with the help of generous individuals and companies, they hope to donate more printers to other impoverished areas as well. It doesn’t stop with just giving 3D printers to those in need though, as Field Ready has devised a four-level training framework which ensures that the locals and expatriates know exactly how to use these machines.
This is one tremendous example of how an organization like Field Ready is putting to use 3D printers from Bold Machines / MakerBot in order to help bring humanitarian relief to those in need. What do you think about this method of manufacturing goods for these developing countries? Is this a blueprint for future disaster relief? Discuss in the Entirely 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below explaining Field Ready in more detail as well as some more photos of the hand design below.
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