Helping Hands

Recycled Plastic Transforms into Prosthetics




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The emerging technology of three-dimensional (3-D) printing can benefit the world in many ways. Re:Purpose for Good, in Australia, creates robotically 3-D printed prosthetic devices from recycled plastic and e-waste. It’s difficult to customize prosthetics, so more invasive surgery is often needed to make standard sizes fit the patient. Other companies produce 3-D printed  prosthetic hands and arms, but Re:Purpose for Good customizes both hands and feet at a much lower cost.

The company’s robotics and prosthetics engineer Gerardo Montoya, who had been working on 3-D printing prosthetics for children in Mexico, merged the idea with a desire to do something about the 8 million tons of plastic entering the oceans. Along with plastic waste, they also use e-waste such as discarded smartphones that have all the circuitry and microprocessors needed for advanced features. The company even plans to teach their prosthetic-making process to children as part of their science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) curriculum, so they can learn 3-D printing skills. They’re making it open source so more people can get involved without patent restrictions.


This article appears in the May 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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