Students at Kansas State University are giving prostheses a new look with bio-augmented, 3-D printed “skins,” or prosthetic covers, according to a recent press release.
For a university project, groups of students interviewed patients with limb loss to gauge their feelings about the aesthetics of their prostheses.
“This project really was looking at … how we can use design to actually make people’s lives better, and then executing that design to get something tangible,” Dustin Headley, an assistant professor of interior architecture and product design in the College of Architecture, Planning & Design, said in the release. “I think … the technology can support it if we are really willing to push the agenda.”
Each patient had their intact leg scanned so the students could mirror that geometry in their skin design. After considering how the designs would be manufactured and attached to the prostheses without being invasive or impeding functionality, the students created the skins using flexible resins and plastics and then presented their designs to the patients.
“One of the students came up with a connection that attaches to the prosthetic’s pylon and clamps the cover in pace,” Headley said. “Since the connection is unobtrusive, it does not stick out in the design and, best of all, does not hamper any of the prosthetic’s functions.”
Designs also included a durable skin for outdoor activities and decorative skin for formal activities.