Prosthetists Meet 3D Printers: Mainstreaming Open Source 3D Printed Prosthetics for Underserved Populations

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Several nationally recognized organizations are coming together to sponsor a day-long conference highlighting and mainstreaming the work of e-NABLE, an online volunteer community of humanitarian technologists that is leading the way by designing, building, and disseminating inexpensive 3D-printed prosthetics.

Several nationally recognized organizations are coming together to sponsor a day-long conference highlighting and mainstreaming the work of e-NABLE, an online volunteer community of humanitarian technologists that is leading the way by designing, building, and disseminating inexpensive 3D-printed prosthetics.

The conference, entitled Prosthetists Meet 3D Printers, is set for Sunday, Sept. 28 in the Turner Auditorium Concourse at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It will bring together thought-leaders in medicine, industry and public policy for a groundbreaking event that will culminate in several children with upper limb disabilities receiving donated 3D prosthetics.

“This should be a watershed event for the prosthetics and 3D-printing industries, as well as for volunteers, academics and policy-makers helping to democratize access and accelerate innovation in prosthetics and humanitarian technological collaboration,” said Jon Schull, founder of e-NABLE.

Custom prosthetics can cost upwards of $30,000. However using 3D printers and collaborative produced non-proprietary designs, e-NABLE members have developed functional hands and forearms that can be 3D-printed for about $50, making them accessible to a wider population, especially those who cannot afford the higher cost. In order to further accelerate innovation and dissemination, the conference includes hands-on workshops that will help prosthetists as well as parents fabricate and assemble devices themselves.

The conference, preceding the Federal Drug Administration Public Workshop in Washington, DC on Additive Manufacturing and of Medical Devices in October, will also set the stage for needs-assessment and alliance-building between medical and helping professionals, parents and recipients, foreign aid workers in war-torn regions, disaster zones, and impoverished communities around the world who need inexpensive and easily attainable prosthetics.

Johns Hopkins University is a platinum sponsor of the conference. Gold sponsors include Rochester Institute of Technology, Ultimaker, manufacturers of open-source 3D printers, and the prosthetics firm Dankmeyer Inc. Silver sponsors include the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Dr. Albert Chi, trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and world-renowned researcher on state-of-the-art prosthetics, will be one of the many engaging speakers at the conference.

“E-NABLE’s collaborative approach to design and democratization of 3D-printed prostheses could significantly improve millions of lives worldwide,” Chi said. “Now is the time to bring these technologies and practices into mainstream medicine.”

Also speaking will be Schull, a research scientist at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Media, Games, Art, Interaction and Creativity, who will talk about how the e-NABLE project hopes to provide prosthetics for children and underserved populations around the world using its new approach to crowd-sourced humanitarian innovation.

The event will also showcase presentations by medical and industry leaders and innovators, as well as by children and adults who use prosthetics. Policy analysts, including the Mercatus Center’s Robert Graboyes, Adam Thierer, and Richard Williams speak on the vital role that permissionless innovation like 3-D printing plays in delivering affordable healthcare.

The event is open to the public. Thanks to generous sponsorships, registration will be free for children, parents, recipients, and the press, and available at a discounted rate for professionals.

To purchase tickets, view the schedule, and more, please visit http://enabling3dpp2014.sched.org.

For media inquiries, please contact Kate Brown at kbrown(at)mercatus(dot)gmu(dot)edu or 202-213-7051. Admission is free for press covering the event.

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Kate Brown
Mercatus Center at George Mason University
+1 (202) 213-7051
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