Doing well by doing good: a recipe for sustain-ability
Author: Billy Pringle
Standard prosthetic limbs made from virgin materials can cost thousands of dollars. A team of young Australians is aiming to reduce those costs and contribute to sustainable resource use at the same time.
Re:Purpose For Good is a small, Sydney based start-up with big plans: to create 3D printed robotic prosthetics from recycled plastics and e-waste. For the 1 in 1000 Australians who suffer from limb loss, having access to comfortable, functional prosthetics can be difficult and expensive,
“There’s a ‘one size fits all’ design and this makes it really difficult to customise prosthetics to a user”, according to a member of the Re:Purpose For Good team.
“Obviously everyone is different and their needs are different, so usually more invasive surgery is required to make prosthetics fit the person”.
By using a 3D model Re:Purpose For Good are able to make customisations on the computer at low cost, moulding the prosthesis to the needs of the user, not the other way around.
Not only is the team working to make prosthetics more comfortable and affordable, they’re also addressing the environmental impact of plastic waste, making their project a world first.
“These plastic recycling machines exist, and 3D printing exists, and 3D printed prosthetics exist. But this will be the first design to use all three systems together”.
The project will work by first using 3D modelling to create blueprints for the mould, automation, programming and electronics. Next, waste plastic such as PET (from drink bottles) and ABS (found in computer keyboards) is shredded into pellets by a machine. A second machine washes the pellets, which are then turned into filament (the building material for 3D printing) by a third machine. Finally, a 3D printer turns the filament into a prosthetic that is combined with upcycled electronics to create responsive robotic limbs.
Re:Purpose For Good has already won the People’s Choice Award at Pitch@Palace and raised over $10,000 on crowd-funding platform Chuffed, garnering a lot of interest or the project. The team says that once they have run their pilot project and measured its impact, they hope to make their system open source and free so that it can help people all around the world.
- Check out Re:Purpose For Good’s Chuffed campaign and encourage friends and coworkers to do the same.
- Recycle plastic containers in your household recycling. If you’re not sure what can and cannot be recycled, or how to prepare different packaging for recycling, check out RecyclingNearYou.
- When you’re at the beach or in the bush, take 3 to reduce litter and recover resources
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