Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Science Fiction to Science Fact Again

Remember in the movie, My Stepmother is an Alien, Kim Basinger (alien) had this hand bag that could recreate anything in short order? In 1988, this possibility was still just a dream. This movie was before your time, er, um, try to rent/download a copy. The movie itself is hilarious!

That's what I thought of when I first heard of 3-D printers a few years ago. Shades of science fiction turning into science fact.  Imagine the possibilities, both good and bad. It didn't take long for someone to print out a fire-able weapon with it. But, for general purposes, I'll ignore the more shadier aspects of having such a printer.

List price $2,499
While costly only in retrospect, I spent $2,000 on a custom built desktop commuter in the later 1980's. (100 meg hard drive, 12X r/w CD ROM, and a whole whopping 4meg of RAM, and a souped up graphic accelerator) It was a dream machine at the time so don't laugh too hard. Now they are about 100 fold more powerful for a couple hundred dollars. I predict the prices will come down with time just like all the other new technological toys.

The Ultimaker was rated as the best 3-D printer. (Top Ten Reviews  for 2015) I guarantee we will look back on it in twenty years and snort that we ever used such a dinosaur. Just for reference I pulled out my first Atari game console to amuse my grandchildren while packing stuff up. They had fun playing with it but were soon bored with the limited graphics capabilities.

What could one of these printers mean for a stroke survivor?

How about eating utensils that you don't have to order and wait for it to be delivered. You could just print off what you needed; when you wanted it.

How about braces and splints? We have all spent untold bucks on braces and splints over the years. How long did you have to wait, doing without until it was delivered? What if the sales rep could take the necessary measurements and print it out while you waited? Now no more waiting for weekends, or holidays, or production/shipping time to end before you get a usable end product.

What if you needed something special? I know from personal experience, that it took two weeks to get a thumb/wrist splint modified so it would be flexible enough at the wrist to handle my spasticity, but firm and padded enough to prevent contractures in my thumb. During the wait, I had a cocked up wrist splint that spent more time off my hand than on it because the wrist wouldn't allow for the downward spasticity in my wrist. The plastic support actually sliced into my hand.

Anything you can design with CAD (computer aided drafting program) software can be built with these printers. You are only limited by your imagination. That's really awesome, isn't it?  I can see the advent of  a new "Want to/Get it/Now" opportunity opening up with this technology hitting the home markets as it is doing now.

I can see it now, they will become everyday household items that we can't live without like indoor plumbing, electric refrigerators and televisions were to my grandmother. Personally, I'm waiting on disposable clothing and food synthesizers. No more dirty dishes, burnt meals, or laundry! Yeah, George Jetson here I come.



Now I know if you were laughing about my custom built computer, you won't remember this from 1963. This was supposedly the 21st century. Well, the century is not over yet. Remember...
Nothing is impossible.

1 comment:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jo - what a great thought .. and yes there are lots of opportunities and people are already taking advantage. Love the Jetson's clips ... cheers and all the best - Hilary