A 3-D printed prosthetic hand (John Biehler/flickr)

For the approximately 1.7 million people in the United States living without one or more of their natural limbs, the process of acquiring a prosthetic one is exhausting. It’s a drain on time and money, involving mold fitting, laser body scanning, and hours upon hours in prosthetists’ offices.

But many of the approximately 34 million people around the world living without a natural limb don’t have access to this process at all.

The motivation to research and create more advanced prosthetic limbs is not financial. The money poured into research isn’t often recouped, simply because there aren’t enough customers. And it isn’t cheap for those customers, either.

3-D printing has the potential to change this.

When Scott Summit, the founder of Bespoke Innovations, started researching 3-D prosthetics six years ago, you had to go to Los Angeles to get a 3-D body scan and it cost about $800. Summit has been working for the past six years to reach a point where fully 3-D printed prosthetics become an easy reality. Everyone I talk to about the intersection of 3-D printing and prosthetics mentions Summit as the definitive expert in the field, and he says we canright now, create a prosthetic limb with an iPhone and a 3-D printer. “I would like to see the creation of a prosthetic limb to be a viral app that’s usable by everyone,” Summit says.

Read the full article at the Atlantic