a reply to: MyHappyDogShiner
I think it is worth pointing out that you can already make land mines using pretty much old containers, bits of recycled wire, and that the process of
constructing cases and mechanisms for them is easy enough that using a three dimensional printer to do it, would be like using an argon laser to heat
your tea or coffee, despite the availability of a kettle.
However, creating a prosthetic limb involves specific measurements, customised to the length of the users remaining limb, or their missing ones in
the case of a double loss. Each one, has to be created to the specific needs of the user. This means that every limb created would be just a little
different than the one that came before it, and the one which comes after.
The reason three dimensional printing is such a wonderful technique to use to build prostheses, is that the materials are formed into those specific
measurements and it allows the production process to be industrialised, while retaining the ability to fill the individual requirements of the end
user. A land mine however, well the customisations for those are not as extensive. The case can remain largely the same, but different charges can be
placed within it, fragmentation elements added, but again, these are not elements which using a three dimensional printing process can assist with.
In short, the reason three dimensional printing of anything from a mechanical limb, to a brand new trachea (I am not kidding, a three dimensionally
printed replacement trachea was fitted to a British woman either this year, or the end of last year I think) is so amazing, is that these are things
which require every unit created to be just a little different than every other unit produced by the same methods, and allows the industrialisation of
the process of constructing those units.
Previously, industrialised processes have been largely uniform. You get one machine or factory, which cranks out tens of thousands of something, but
all those finished products are pretty much identical, and would have to be customised later according to the users preferences and desires, and cars
a are a great example. Millions roll of the production lines of the motor industry, globally, every year. Every model of a particular car is made of
the same exact components, with the same measurements, panel gap allowances, tension resistance, the lot.
With three dimensional printing, every component, and every finished product, leaves the manufacturing line pre-worked to the requirements of the end
user, meaning that for the first time in history, the production of very intricately customised objects, can be industrialised, and finished articles
produced with the minimum of post production tinkering, and with the minimum of lead time. Used to be that the time between someone needing a
prosthetic limb, and actually getting one that worked for them was quite extensive.
With this method, those lead times between need, and availability of a suitable limb, are going to DRASTICALLY decrease, which will improve the
quality of recipients lives, far more quickly, and allow them a freedom of movement that perhaps they find difficult to attain using alternative
methods of getting around. Also, the speed and ease of the manufacturing process, will result in more affordable limbs, since all the fine adjustments
which used to cost the time and the money, will be virtually non-existent.
With regard to limb loss, and limb acquisition, and the three dimensional printing techniques affect on both, I would say that if you weigh it up,
the process improves the state of prosthesis availability, far more than it improves peoples access to land mines.
edit on 21-5-2014 by TrueBrit because: Spelling and grammar corrections.