Building Low-Cost Prosthetics

Building low-cost prosthetics by SLAM scanning the residual limbs of amputees.

Summary of Research

Currently, there are more than 2 million amputees living in the U.S. alone and over 180,000 amputations performed each year. Conventional prosthetics are also very expensive, with one study estimating that veterans returning from military operations in Iraq and Iran amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in prosthetic expenses over just five years. There exists a huge need for prosthetics that are not only strong and durable, but also lightweight and aesthetically pleasing. The purpose of this project was to create a system which can produce comfortable, functional, and low-cost prosthetics for amputees. A Microsoft Kinect was used to scan the limb into the computer as 3-dimensional mesh, which was healed and repaired. In traditional prosthetic manufacturing, prosthetists will often find pressure points and indent the socket to alleviate them, a process called rectification. A mathematical approach to rectification has been utilized in the form of a Java program, which can take a mesh generated by the scanning stage and identify potential pressure points points. A prosthetist can then sculpt the mesh in the computer depending on whether they believe the pain point is valid. Solid sockets are very strong, but they can also be heavy and use large amounts of material. The final algorithm converts this solid socket into a lattice structure, one that keeps the socket strong but uses far less material and time. This lattice can then be sent to a Rapid Prototyping machine, such as a 3D printer or CNC mill to be fabricated.

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Building Low-Cost Prosthetics

Building low-cost prosthetics by SLAM scanning the residual limbs of amputees.

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