Engineers in the United States have integrated 3D-printed prosthetics with electronic sensors to help wearers get a better and more personalised fit for the product.
The team, from Virginia Tech, placed sensors at points on the prosthetic where it comes into contact with the wearer’s tissue.
By measuring information related to the function and comfort of the device, such as pressure and hardness, the engineers can then create newer versions of the prosthetic that are better adapted to the individual needs of its wearer.
Rather than use a traditional 3D-printing approach, the Virginia Tech team used conformal 3D printing, which allowed it to work with curved surfaces. Industrial and systems engineering student Yuxin Tong, who was the lead author on a paper about the technique, hopes its use will one day be widespread.
“Hopefully, every parent could follow the description from the paper we published and develop a low-cost personalised prosthetic hand for his or her child,” she said.