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3D Printings Impact on Persons with Disabilities


By Brian D. Rogers

3D printing has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years. The technology has allowed for larger printers to be made to handle larger parts. It has also allowed the technology to be shrunk to the size of a pen. These strides have made people experiment on what can be printed, and the items have been vastly different.

            3D printings impact on persons with disabilities has been just as vast. Doctors are finding ways to use 3D printing to make hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, bone grafts, and false teeth. Utilizing CT scans, doctors have produced models of organs, tumors, bones and other internal structures to assist them during surgery.3D printing has been used to help doctors plan complex cranial surgeries to fix deformities. Practicing on the 3D printed skull helps reduce operation times and allows doctors to make better decisions with alterations during surgery, please view this video http://a.msn.com/01/en-us/AA8J5Mc . Also, 3D printers are being developed that can lay down layers of cells and create artificial organs.

            3D printers have been used to create other assistive technology as well. Parts of the Exo-Skeleton used to help people in wheelchairs walk again, custom seats for wheelchairs, entire wheelchair frames, small ramps to help with curb clearance, custom game controllers, adaptive sports equipment, and many more items are printed.

            As the technology advances many prosthetics can be customized easier, and can be produced to be closer to the original limb than current ones. Custom parts that use to take weeks to produce can be made in a matter of days.

            The latest stride has been made to assist people with visual impairments. 3D printing has now been placed in a wand a little bigger than a pen and can be utilized to create braille dots on paper. This advancement allows people to have the ability to write without the use of a computer or braille typewriter.

I encourage you to explore the world of 3D printing and see for yourself the many things being printed to assist people with disabilities.


Funding for this site was provided by:

Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council
Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living