Every surface is an opportunity for design and our bodies are no exception. What constitutes the limits of our bodies is more open to interpretation than it might at first seem and the ability to mark our bodies and decorate them to our own desires is seen by many as a key aspect of freedom. From the clothes we wear to those we don’t and from tattoos to makeup, these surfaces express and form our identities on a very intimate level. This is no less true for a prosthetic limb than it is for a biological one and designer Tomáš Vacek is working to help create covers that are as unique as the individuals who wear them.
The project, called Art4Leg, aims to create individualized covers that are then attached to the prosthetic using high powered magnets. These magnets hold the front and back panels together while also making it easy to remove them.
“The original idea came after a charity golf tournament where I met the Czech hockey player Roman Bernat who has admirably led a very active life despite his handicap. During that same period, I was working with the Centre of 3D printing 3Dees and so the idea to create a custom-made prosthesis came very naturally. After launching the first prosthesis cover at a conference on technologies for people with special needs, we met other amazing amputees and began to consider the possibilities that 3D printing had for the creation of such meaningful objects.”
They called this first cover Sportsman in honor of its owner. The second cover that they have developed is for Lenka, a fashion professional living outside of the rush of the city in a beautiful country house. This cover has been titled Nature and its unique organic structure was designed specifically based on her personality, interests, and aesthetic.
The creation of these covers begins with the creation of a digital model of the prosthetic and a combination of Artec, Rhino, Mudbox, and Keyshot are used to develop the design and prepare it for printing. The printing process is tailored to the specifics of the cover that is being created. The Sportsman model was created using an FDM printer, and took over 40 hours to print, while Nature was fabricated on an SLS machine, for a greatly shortened printing time. No matter the production technique utilized, the covers are painted in post-production before they are ready to use. Vacek documented several of his designs on his portfolio at Behance.
Vacek has found the creation of these covers to be a very fulfilling application for his background in product design and notes that members of his studio truly enjoy working on these projects. They are hoping to launch a line of covers under the brand Art4Leg and plan to announce their availability soon. Join the discussion in the 3D Printed Art4Leg Prosthetic Covers forum thread over at 3DPB.com.
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