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Comment: Re:A different beast (Score 1) 136

by laird (#46803021) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

Typically the first one is assembled by the volunteer working with the family, as a training session, and after that they can print replacements and do the assembly themselves.

this approach does require a parent/relative/friend with some dedicated to get started. There's a map of volunteers . If you don't have anyone around that wants to help, you'd better have insurance to cover paying a professional to help you out.

Comment: Re:I make prosthetics for a living. (Score 1) 136

by laird (#46802987) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

Wow, nice to see someone with an informed post. The amusing thing to me is that we've got tons of videos, and this is the one that made Slashdot. But we're happy with any of the patent's stories. They're pretty cool, actually - patients talking about their prosthetics, shot by either the patients, their parents, or the "maker", and a few videos of people giving presentations (e.g. at TED). Check out .

We're not claiming that 3D printed prosthetics are better than commercial prosthetics, just that they're more accessible. Particularly outside of the US and Europe, the cost is a huge barrier, and we're excited that we are producing designs, documentation, etc., empowering people to help each other if they don't have a viable commercial option.

Comment: Re:One word answer: Liability (Score 1) 136

by laird (#46802945) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

As I said, I used to work in the airplane business. And if you bought a kit for an airplane and built it yourself, you can't sue the company that sold you the kit because you assumed the liability. That's why most innovation in airplanes in the US is in kit planes - commercial manufactures fall under liability, which complicates their lives quite a bit, which (perversely) discourages innovation, so many people are flying airplanes with engine designs from the 1950s.

Hand prosthetics are "prosthetic devices class I, non-significant risk devices" by the FDA. .

Comment: Re:And the developer of the 3D printer is relying (Score 2) 136

by laird (#46802873) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

"steal the IP that others spent time and money designing, testing and getting approved"

The designs of the 3D printed prosthetics are substantially different from modern commercial prosthetics, because the manufacturing process is utterly different. And mechanical prosthetics have been around for a very, very long time. So there's no "stealing of IP". Really, do some research before accusing people of theft.

"people actually ignorant enough to believe that a part is going to magically design itself in a 3D printer"

So far what's happening is that people with design skills and a 3D printer are making designs to help themselves or others in their area. Then they share the results with people who can then adapt and print the files. So what's "magically" happening is that people are sharing their work freely, to everyone's benefit. Because they need the problem solved so they solved it, but they don't want to be in the prosthetics business so they gave the design away.

You know, like Free Open Source Software. Which has worked out pretty well so far.

Comment: Re:Sunk Costs (Score 4, Insightful) 136

by laird (#46802847) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

You're coming very much from the prospective of a wealthy American/European, where a $42K prosthetic is an option.

But if you're not covered by very good insurance, which is the case for the majority of humanity, an affordable 3D printed hand is much better than nothing.

And a free/open innovative community working on prosthetics can move much faster than the commercial options, and perhaps innovate past them the way home 3D printing exploded past the commercial 3D printing companies. The commercial guys were too concerned with the expensive/subtle issues, when what people may well care more about is being able to cheaply and easily solve their problem.

You're right that the $42K prosthetic isn't the same as the $50 one. A major difference, which you missed, is that it's myoelectric and active, while the $50 one is mechanical. It turns out that for this patient, the simple, mechanical solution worked better than the sophisticated, computerized one. So it's fundamentally a cheaper, simpler solution.

The rest of the costs pretty much come down to the traditional business model vs. FOSS. If you want to buy a product from a company that you can sue, with MBAs and lawyers and on-staff researchers, etc., you get to pay the big bucks for the product. If you don't have the money for that, or you prefer free/open source solutions for other reasons (such as the ability to modify the designs to suit your personal needs), you can go the Free Open Source Software route, and print your own.

Yes, this relies on volunteer labor to do the printing, assembly, fitting, etc. There are 600+ people registered at (mainly in the Google+ group). That's the point - by empowering people with FOSS designs and documentation, they can help each other, at much lower cost than paying professionals with all of the overhead that you mention. And it turns out that many of the volunteers work professionally in the field - this is just a new way for them to apply their skills to help patients.

And I'll also point out that your comments reveal some misunderstandings of how rapidly 3D printing has progressed.

- It doesn't cost $10K for a quality 3D printer. You can get a fine 3D printer for $1K, or a cheap one for $300, and the most expensive home 3D printer is $3K. There are some great industrial printers, but it would be stupid to buy an industrial printer to print one thing - there are plenty of people and Maker spaces who already have 3D printers. See and register if you're interested. And of course there are service bureaus such as ShapeWays if you really want a high-end printed version.
- The materials aren't as fragile as you think. There are 100+ people happily using ABS prosthetics now, and we're finding that printing in Nylon is amazingly durable. You can hammer on Nylon, and just bounces back. Amazing stuff. Hospitals and medical researchers are using 3D printed Nylon now, so using it for prosthetics is pretty reasonable.
- If you can print a replacement for the raw cost of materials, that changes the economics. If you can print your own replacements for $1, it doesn't make sense to spend $millions in R&D, and spend vastly more for the prosthetic's materials, because the cost of avoiding breakage far outstrips the cost of the breakage.

All of the designs are published, and open source. So there's nothing being hidden in the video - you can download the models and inspect them to your heart's desire.

If you don't like the music that someone selected, feel free to make a better video!

Comment: Re:One word answer: Liability (Score 1) 136

by laird (#46802731) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

The designs are open source, and freely shared, very specifically with no warranty or guarantee. Just like open source software. People who release open source software don't get sued over the software, because they're not selling and supporting it, they're giving it away specifically with no guarantees or support.

I've worked in the airplane business. As screwed up as liability law is, there still has to be actual liability to award damages. So unless someone can prove that food was a cause of a crash, I don't think that the airline food companies are at risk of paying out over a lawsuit over a crash. And more relevant to the 3D printed prosthetics, if you build your own airplane (e.g. any kit plane) you can't sue the manufacturer. That's why in the US kit plates are relatively popular, because they're vastly less expensive than commercially sold airplanes.

And if you download an open source program/design and use it, and it's not suitable for your purposes, you don't get to sue anyone over it. It's been tried a few times, and went nowhere. If you want someone to sue, you have to go the commercial route, and pay more.

Comment: Re:obamacare says "no way" (Score 1) 136

by laird (#46802679) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

Several reasons:
1) Many people don't have insurance, or have insurance that doesn't cover prosthetics. 3D printing prosthetics is a huge enabler for people in the third world, for example. And even in the US, there are plenty of people that the insurance companies don't or won't cover.
2) The ability to make your own, and to customize it to your needs, is very powerful. If you watch the video, the patient was happier with his $50 printed prosthetic than a $40k prosthetic, because it worked better for him. In part this movement is driven by people's desire to make something better than the commercial options.

Comment: Re:10% ethanol also means 20% MPG lost (Score 5, Informative) 77

by dgatwood (#46802585) Attached to: Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline

E85 is 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline, not the other way around. A 10% ethanol blend (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline) is called E10, not E90. Using E10 reduces your fuel economy by about 3–4%, and a 15% blend reduces your miles per tank by about 4–5%, assuming a modern, fuel-injected engine. I would expect the impact to be worse for an engine with a carburetor, but I don't know for certain. Either way, I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near 20% even with older engines.

Yes, if it were legal to sell E90, it would reduce your fuel economy by somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%. Of course, your car wouldn't start in the winter, and in most cars, parts of your fuel system would likely rust out pretty quickly, spewing fuel all over the hot engine, thus ending your life in a blaze of glory, so fuel economy would be the least of your problems....

Comment: Re:"beofuels from corn" is not just stupid (Score 3, Insightful) 77

They claim that ethanol has 3% less energy than gasoline. But I have measured that I get AT LEAST 10% less millage in my 2013 Mazda on gasoline diluted with alcohol than I do with pure gasoline. What that means for me is that I effectively get ZERO energy from the alcohol mixed with my gas. I would be better off just buying the 90% gas and letting them keep the 10% alcohol, at least that way I wouldn't have to haul around the useless alcohol and/or I would have more space for gas in the tank. When I can find it I sometimes buy pure gas at a premium price, but it isn't available close to my home, isn't easy to buy when on the road, and usually costs more that the difference in the mileage justifies.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries