Are you or a family member in need of artificial limbs or custom prosthetics? While 3D printing may very well be the way of the future, there are a few reasons why it's not quite ready yet for mass production. Today, the best source of custom prosthetics is still companies that are dedicated to the process of building and designing them.
1. There Is No Quality Control
3D-printed prosthetics do not undergo testing or quality control. Many of them are developed by those who do not have a degree in either engineering or medicine. Not only does this mean that they could be dangerous under ordinary use, but it also means that they could potentially injure you further. As an example, an improperly-fitted 3D prosthetic could cause you to tilt, putting unnecessary wear on your joints and bones.
2. 3D Printing Is Still a Challenge
Most people have to be relatively tech savvy to be able to print a custom prosthetic. Moreover, the prosthetics usually don't come customized and there usually isn't a service that customizes it--instead, you need to figure out how to customize it on your own. This often involves having to learn 3D software solutions, some of which can be quite complicated, frustrating and advanced.
3. 3D Printers Are Fairly Expensive
Though a cheap 3D printer may only be a few hundred dollars, those capable of printing a custom prosthetic are often over a thousand dollars. With this amount of money at stake, it may simply be more beneficial to purchase a custom prosthetic that will last. A 3D printer may only be feasible for those who believe they will need a 3D printer for other projects.
4. 3D Printers Aren't Covered By Insurance
The vast majority of most prosthetic expenses will be covered by insurance. 3D printers are not covered by insurance, nor will any of the supplies or designs be. Thus, a 3D printer may not be able to save someone money at all, depending on how good their insurance policy actually is. Of course, those without insurance may not see that much of a difference, but they still won't be able to use medical lines of credit to cover the cost.
While the above points may be true about custom prosthetics themselves, 3D printing still has a place. There are many people who are designing add-ons for artificial limbs such as snap-on designs. These cosmetic additions can go a long way towards making a prosthetic feel more comfortable and unique.
To learn more, contact a company like Cotton Orthotic and Prosthetic with any questions you have.