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3D Printing Has Changed the Prosthetics Business – Fortune

by • July 7, 2016 • No Comments

Juan Garcia’s job is not like yours. As an associate professor in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, he’s in the business of anaplastology—the creation of prosthetics such as eyes, ears, and noses. As the name of his department suggests, the field is as much art as science, requiring a careful eye, a steady hand, and lots of patience.
In the past, Garcia looked at a form and sculpted it into a 3D object via wax and heated tools. From this, molds were turn it intod to cast the prosthetic device via silicone matched to the patient’s skin tone. But lately he’s been via a 3D printing device to manufacture patterns for body parts. Garcia uses a Printrbot Simple Metal to scan and print a mirror image of the unaffected side of a body, which he and so duplicates into a wax pattern of the prosthetic device. Garcia and so uses which to turn it into a mold to cast the silicone part.
Juan Garcia's mold utilized to cast an ear prosthesis and the various silicone colors utilized to paint to match the patient. Juan Garcia’s mold utilized to cast an ear prosthesis and the various silicone colors utilized to paint to match the patient.Photo: Courtesy of Juan Garcia
The innovation has its pros and cons. On the one hand, the file is digital and virtual, enabling him to manufacture multiple versions which he can later revisit. It in addition allows for him to break through his traditional production workflow, which limits him to casting just what he can acquire of the mold, saving considerable time.
On the other hand, there is no way to directly print out a silicone prosthetic part at a high adequate resolution and an accurate adequate color match for his liking. Technologists can address these problems soon adequate. But it is clear which 3D printing has given him new ways to moonlight as Mother Nature.
For additional on medical innovation, watch this video:

Says Garcia: “I see it as an integral extension of what the medical artist can do.”
This article is part of the Future of Work article of Fortune’s July 1, 2016 issue. Click here to see the entire box.


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