Nov.8, 2013

Sheffield-based Fripp Design, a small manufacturing company in the north of England is hoping to revolutionize the world of prosthetics.

Photograph: Fripp Design

Fripp Design has developed a system for fast and low-cost manufacture of facial prostheses such as nose and ear replacements for accident victims. "Conventional maxillofacial prosthetics are incredibly laborious and expensive to produce," says their creator, industrial designer Tom Fripp. And it takes normally 10 weeks to complete one. "You have to take an impression from the area of trauma, cast a plaster positive, then make a mould, carve the desired form in wax, and cast it in silicone. The end result of this handmade process costs between £1,500 to £3,000."

Working with researchers at the University of Sheffield, Fripp's company have developed a process that can print a customised nose or ear within 48 hours. First the patient's face is 3D-scanned, then the specific contours are added to a digital model of the new prosthetic part for a perfect fit. These features are either taken from the scan of the patients' relatives or the patient's own file, for example one ear can be scanned and mirrored to replicate another.

Meanwhile they are also working on 3D-printed eyes. A handmade eye can cost up to $10,000, but a 3D printed one will only cost around $160.

The parts are printed in full colour in starch powder using a Z Corp Z510 colour 3D printer. The lightweight model is then vacuum-infiltrated with medical grade silicone, binding it together. The cost of making such a part is almost the same as a handmade prosthetic, but Fripp says once the file is created, it can be used infinitely. And the cost can be lowered to £150.

The main barrier is the high cost of 3D-scanning technology as well as getting approval from the health authority. Fripp expects the technology to be ready in about a year.

Source: the guardian

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



Maybe you also like:


Willie F wrote at 1/3/2015 8:23:55 AM:

I have a prosthetic eye made at an ocularist in west Los Angeles on Larchmont blvd. My parents had to sue the Kaiser insurance to cover it and it would have cost about 2500 if not for insurance I came apon this article by accident see as my prosthetic is getting old and not fitting and as an adult that Kaiser insurance is no more meaning I would have to pay out of pocket. Yes 10000 is an over statement but these eye are still expensive they should be less in the UK because the manufacturing technique of these eyes is German origin and UK is near Germany.

Daril Atkins wrote at 3/16/2014 4:45:55 AM:

Mr Fripps is wrong. It does not take ten weeks to make a ear, or nose prosthesis manually. From the replication of the defect using life casting techniques to the final silicone polymer prosthesis could take no more than a week. The actual cost of the materials, such as dental alginate, stone plaster and silicone polymer would be no more than one tenth of the cost as mentioned in your write up.

ThatGuy wrote at 11/8/2013 10:32:48 PM:

New meaning to "Got your nose!!"

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive