The development of a parametrically customisable 3D printed swimming prosthesis for trans-tibial amputees. This prototype if the world's first example of a fully functional prosthesis aiding lower limb amputee swimmers Since published by Yanko Design, Victoria University, Stuff, and noted by the former New Zealand Minister for Disabilities, Hon. Nicky Wagner.
The practice of fitting and making prosthetic limbs using current techniques leaves little room for innovative research and design. Though market leaders are producing more advanced components, prosthetic technicians are using traditional techniques to fabricate prosthetic limbs. New material and design technologies could enable progressive solutions to historic barriers. Increasing accessibility, ease and enjoyment of exercise may help to advocate and improve physical and mental health among amputees.
Design research was used to develop a 3D printed swimming prosthesis for lower limb amputees with the use of 3D scanning, parametric software and fused deposition modelling. Using digital technologies has the potential to provide a platform for cost effective specialty prosthetic limbs enabling and enriching recreational sport for amputees.
Prototypes were developed with a unilateral trans-tibial amputee using an iterative process involving material testing and user testing. These prototypes allowed him to walk independently to the pool and produced positive effects on his swimming, including a recreated anthropometric symmetry. As advances in data collection and additive manufacturing continue to be made we will be able to more closely cater to the individual’s needs whilst challenging the status quo in prosthesis craft.