24 Jul You’ll Love These Ten 3D Printed Assistive Devices
3D Printing is hitting the market hot and heavy, and why not? It is an absolutely incredible way to digitally photocopy and is opening up huge doors in manufacturing, medicine, and other industries. Originally derived from inkjet printing methods, the inclusion of fiber has brought on a printing revolution. Right before your eyes, nearly anything you can fit on the printer can be reproduced layer by layer. And several different materials can be used in the process, from glass to metallic powders. In all, it has incredible implications to improve the lives of older adults and those in need of assistance. “How,” you might ask?
Well, one great thing about the freedom of 3D printing is that it offers you an active role in the creation of your assistive devices. You don’t have to rely on companies or hospitals to come up with solutions for your challenges. You can make virtually anything you need using your specific requirements. 3D printing allows you to make objects that are impossible to attain by any other fabrication method. Objects with parts that function in relationship to each other, but that need to be one unit, are best made from 3D printing. Also, objects with holes, sometimes filled with a dense fibrous network like bone implants, are perfect for 3D printing.
Want to learn even more? Check out these ten 3D printable assistive technology tools that can be shaped to meet your exact needs.
Do you need cushioned shoes formed to your feet? 3D printing can make it possible. Many older adults suffer from foot maladies that occur with aging. Heel and bone spurs, fallen arches, lost muscle mass, arthritis, and bunions are just a few. Custom-made, orthopedic support shoes are often exorbitantly priced, but with 3D printing, at a reasonable cost and without major time constraints, shoes can be assembled to your specifications.
3D printing applications in medicine are booming. They include customized implants, organ transplants, prosthetics, and medical devices that revolutionize healthcare and are set to disrupt many areas of traditional medicine. Implants, such as those for the hip and shoulder, can be molded to your exact body composition.
Create Prosthetics uses 3D printing to make customizable, flexi-fit prosthetic limbs that conform to your frame. They make walking or running more comfortable and normal. The covers can also be monogrammed with a range of options including designs and personalized images.
You read that right. 3D printed food can be made to look like regular food, but with a smooth texture, it can be swallowed without chewing. Real food is ground into a paste and then formed on the printer. This helps to prevent choking hazards if you struggle with dysphagia (chewing and swallowing). It adds variety and flavor if you’re on a limited diet. If your nutritional needs must be precise, 3D printed food is easily reproducible. Biozoon is one company making this possible with their SmoothFood products.
The silverware/pen/cup support holder works well for any issues you might have with reduced hand strength or limited fine motor skills. The hand clip on the device slides easily onto the hand to support the holder. This makes it easier to eat or write. Found on MyMiniFactory, it can be easily duplicated on a 3D printer and can be molded perfectly to your hand.
6. Can Openers
The Ring Pull Can Opener is another assistive device that can work wonders. Just as its name suggest, it is used to open cans. You simply slide the device over the can opener until it latches. Then, just pull it open. It is great for those with reduced hand strength.
7. Wheelchair Control Sticks
If you use a wheelchair, you know that no matter how advanced and expensive, trouble with the steering control stick is often a given. To make controlling the wheelchair easier, larger and more manageable 3D printed control sticks can be fitted to the chair, giving you more independence and freedom to move about.
8. Pill Grabber
This device is great for picking up tiny pills and releasing them into your mouth to swallow. If you have hand and muscle weakness, you might occasionally drop your prescription medications. With the Pill Grabber, the pill is caught among synthetic nodules for easy pick up. This is very easy to reproduce on a 3D printer, so you can have them in any space you need them, like home or work.
9. Sock Helper
You’ve seen this one during your late-night TV binges or in the mall at the As Seen on TV store. And you may have been thinking, “Why would anyone need this?” Well, this device makes daily dressing easier for those with limited range of motion. Instead of straining your back, you place the sock over the holder, and then use the grabber to place it on the floor. From there, you slide your foot in the sock. That’s it! It saves you from back pain, and it even works with compression socks. Enjoy all these benefits. Plus, with simple modifications, you can 3D print the Sock Helper for a wider or slimmer foot. What more could you want?
10. Page Holder
If you love reading books, then you’ll love this device. Instead of holding the book in both hands, leaning on it, or cracking the spine with each page turn, you can use the Page Holder. Just place it at the bottom centerfold, and it holds your pages open for you. Even better, you can 3D print the Page Holder for all the bookworms in your life. Find them on Thingiverse.
The number of 3D printed items is growing daily, giving you many more options to choose from than the ones listed here. While 3D printing is generally a low-cost, personalized alternative, it is not without its drawbacks. You must have a 3D model for the printer, and unless you have some skill in this area, you probably will want to buy the models. In all, this is a fun way to get what you want just the way you want it. And guess what? Designers and engineers have started building 3D printed houses, so who knows? This might just be the technological wave of the future.