3D Printing of Prosthetics for Children in Developing Countries

The NGO, Christian Blind Mission Canada, has received $90,000 through the Grand Challenges Canada fund, to support the creation of 3D prosthetics for children in the developing world.

“There are more than ten million people in the world with amputations, most of whom live in developing countries,” says Mitch Wilkie, director of international programs at Christian Blind Mission. “Around 300,000 of them are landmine survivors and this number is growing by about 26,000 people annually.”

Conventional prosthetic sockets for the remaining part of patients’ injured limbs are made using plaster-of-Paris molds, but these take up to a week to dry in the sun. Children also require at least two fittings a year — equivalent to around 25 prostheses over a lifetime — to adjust for body growth, making the process expensive for their families.

“We are confident that we can expedite this whole process with 3-D scanning and printing,” says Wilkie. The team hopes to produce prostheses in developing countries for around $250. At present, they cost up to $5,000 in developed countries. The 3D printing efforts will be first launched in Uganda.