Aug 29, 2016 | By Tess

JSR, the Japanese manufacturer of ABS plastics and other polymer materials, has just announced a partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA) and 3D printed prosthesis manufacturer SHC Design to create and put a new 3D printed prosthetic leg model onto the market. The additively manufactured prosthetic, which has been under development since 2015, will be made from JSR’s own specially created FABRIAL R 3D printing materials. The joint team plans to make the innovative product available to consumers as early as 2017.

The 3D printed prosthetic leg endeavour was undertaken by all three companies for a number of reasons, first and foremost that they wanted to develop a prosthetic that would be affordable and accessible to a wide number of people in need. According to the team, an estimated 17 million people worldwide are in need of some sort of prosthesis, though high prices make them inaccessible for large parts of the population. In Japan, for instance, a standard prosthetic leg made from metal can cost between 300,000 and 400,000 yen (roughly $2,934 to $3,912). Using 3D printing technologies, however, JSR believes it can reduce manufacturing costs for the prosthetic leg by 20 to 30% compared to standard prosthetics.

Additionally, the joint team believes that offering a prosthetic leg made from an advanced plastic material will offer a number of advantages to users over metal prosthetics. Aside from the cost advantages of using plastic, JSR found that metal prosthetics could be limiting to wearers in terms of where they could walk and explore because of the risk of rusting, whereas plastic would not have that problem.

Additionally—and this is where the airline collaboration comes in—a plastic prosthetic would allow wearers to more easily get through airport security (by not beeping every time), thus facilitating and encouraging travel. ANA will offer insight into this aspect of the prosthesis design and work with SHC to create a travel-friendly prosthetic leg.

The plastic material of the 3D printed prosthetic, along with SHC’s innovative design, also mean that the prosthetic is more lightweight than traditionally manufactured ones. The filament in question, FABRIAL R, was developed by JSR with the support of the Keio University SFC Research Institute social fabrication-lab and offers a wide diversity of uses, including in the medical field. The both soft and supple material has also been tested extensively and has been certified as safe for contact with skin.

As mentioned, the 3D printed leg prosthetic, developed by JSR, SHC Design and ANA, is expected to hit the market as of 2017. No costs have been tied to the new medical device as of yet.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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