3D Printing Makes Thinkers into Doers
A Leg that Fits: Making Natasha’s 3D-Printed Prosthetic in Two Weeks
“It was incredible to be a part of and we could not have done this without 3D printing from 3D Systems.” Mike Fanning, NovaCAD.
In November 2013, Natasha Hope-Simpson lost her left leg in a hit-and-run accident. As you might expect, she had to put her whole life on hold. At the same time, Natasha proved stronger than she had ever imagined. Natasha moved forward with her life through design. After reflection on the prosthetic leg she had been given, she knew it had to be different. As a graduate at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD), she sought to
make a leg that was more personal, one that fit her personality and her anatomy.
She wanted a leg that was human.
It all began in February 2014, when Natasha spoke to a class at which NSCAD Director Gregor Ash happened to be visiting. Natasha discussed her prosthetic design efforts and the challenges of creating this functional, aesthetic personal medical device.
Inspired by Natasha’s drive and ambition, Ash came to us at Thinking Robot Studios with a challenge: to team with Natasha to create a prosthetic design in time for NSCAD’s Maker Symposium within 15 days. We make a living at creating custom orthopedic implants and systems, but I remember thinking that this was going to be a challenge. How on earth were we going to pull this off?
We knew that 3D printing and scanning was the only way to do this quickly and accurately, so we immediately called Mike Fanning, CEO of NovaCad, a 3D Systems reseller. For scanning, we called Ian Weir at Canada’s Department of National Defense and Bob Garrish of Spring Loaded technology. Natasha’s team of one had, within less than a day, become a team of six. But there was still a lot to do.
In order to get the shape and size of Natasha’s prosthetic leg correct, Ian and Bob took two different scans of Natasha’s existing leg using laser and white light scanning. They processed the scans using Geomagic® Studio scanning software and converted the data into usable 3D so my business partner, Jourdan Dakov, and I could perform the engineering steps. Using the mesh scan data, we created the prosthetic‘s mechanical and structural
components in CAD.