This article originally appeared on TechCrunch on June 26th, 2016.
The recent ubiquity of 3D printers and innovations in prosthetic design, manufacturing, and distribution offer a viable solution for the millions of people living with limb loss around the world. In the United States alone, close to 200,000amputations are performed each year, yet, with prosthetics priced between $5,000 and $50,000, having one can almost be considered a luxury. Traditionally, the process of getting a prosthetic limb can take anywhere from several weeks to months. Since prosthetics are such personal items, each one has to (or should) be custom made or fit to the needs of the wearer. However, as 3D printers become more affordable, with some available for under $200, the possibility of anyone being able to design and print a prosthetic limb in their home or local community is rapidly becoming a reality.