The process is amazingly quick and unobtrusive. Patients begin by sorting through an immense online catalogue to choose what designs, finishes, colors, and materials they want for their fairing. This includes composite materials, fine metals, and even leather. Afterwards, they are brought to any facility where a 3D scanner can image both their real leg and their current prosthetic. This allows the prosthetic to fit in the shape of the person’s real leg. After the scanning process, the engineers tweaked the image for the specifications. The design is then sent to their factory in South Carolina where a 3D printer manufactures the entire covering in one go. The amputee then receives their fairing in almost no time at all.
The fairings cost between 3,000 and 6,000 dollars and are lightweight, durable, and easily cleaned. The designers also recommend that patients do not get a fairing until after they are fully habituated to their prosthetic, so they do not have to buy a new one if things do not work out. For me, the coolest thing is that even double amputees can also undergo this process. They have “stand-ins” (pun probably intended) who match the individuals in build and stature and who stand on the scanner for them. This permits for the recipient maximum normalcy and comfort.
These fairings are at the convergence of new technology (3D printers), timing (lowering costs), and collaboration (so many diverse fields are involved here). The overall process requires the involvement of the patients, their prosthetists, mechanical engineers, and artists. It would appear that they have obtained a near perfect Q score to achieve such amazing things in their biosocial-medical field.
And, it was Scott Summons who brought all these people together to give individuals who lost so much in their lives so much back. Just as how Bob Taylor in the Bennis reading brought together the foremost computer scientists to push the limits of the technology, Mr. Summers collected the best and most diverse talent he could get just to let them work together to find the most personal and effective way to help people feel at one with their prosthetics
Mr. Summers also holds at least one of the paradoxical qualities of the creative individual. In Csikszentmihalyi’s article, eminent creatives are both imaginative but realistic. In this case, Mr. Summers believes that one day his company will be printing and grafting organic tissue to totally replace the damaged body part instead of just these fanciful coverings. He believes that if lizards can regrow tails, then humans can build real, biological limbs. While quirky sounding and still a little far off from today’s technology, this is a very realistic possibility in the next few decades, especially with recent advancements in 3D printing, which has allowed the printing of skin grafts for burn victims.
I find this truly an amazing and creative process, because Mr. Summers and his team are not only doing some beautiful, they are also advancing science while helping others to live as normal and as awesome as a life as possible.
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