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Open Bionics Offers 3-D Printing Code to Make Your Own Prosthetics

Nov 08, 2016 05:04 AM EST

Samantha Payne's startup Open Bionics released the code for 3-D printer schematics that allows parents to print prosthetic limbs for their children. The code can be altered and designed for adults as well.

According to WIRED, the new limbs can come in a variety of designs, including Disney and Pixar stars, Marvel heroes, and Star Wars characters.

Payne told the audiences at WIRED Next Generation that 3-D scanning and printing can significantly reduce the costs to create artificial limbs. Her designs can make the creation of these prosthetics 20 times cheaper. This can give at least two million upper limb amputees around the world to have access to otherwise extremely expensive limbs.

Payne was able to open Open Bionics in 2014 with the help of a $250,000 cash prize from Intel's Make it Wearable challenge.

It was able to garner fame due to its low-cost bionic arms.The firm wanted to emphasize that they wanted to make bionic limbs that not only are agile but are also strong.

Payne currently has a four-person robotics team that can fully build a customized arm in three days. This is significantly faster than the NHS, which takes up to three months.

However, Payne did argue that three days was still "too long." So she believed open source was the way to go. She uploaded the code on their website for interested parties to build their own prosthetic limbs.

Interested people can download the code here.

It appears multiple parties have benefited from her work. Payne once received a random message during an office day in Bristol. It was from an American veteran who, after losing his arm in Afghanistan, downloaded the code and made a prosthetic by himself.

Payne said going open source was efficient as it opens technology to a wide variety of improvements. She believes letting people tweak her technology can significantly make progress in the field.It also opens an entirely new realm of personalized prosthetics.

Payne believed prosthetic limbs are a way of expression, and people can choose the way they want to look.This can have a positive effect on children, who can become their own bionic superheroes. For instance, 11-year-old Tilly joined Payne at WIRED Next Generation. Her arm had to be amputated when she was just 15 months old after contracting meningitis septicemia. The replacement arm only had three fingers - which was "more of a weapon."

Now, her new arm from Open Bionics allow her to move her bionic arms and perform complex movements. Children now have the option to choose a wide variety of designs, too. 

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