Need your help and experiences for a project

Questions and answers about printers, software, modeling, and all other aspects of making hands
Romainl
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2016 2:50 pm

Need your help and experiences for a project

Postby Romainl » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:36 am

Hi everyone,
First of all I would like to thank you for your work and ideas. You people are a source of inspiration for others.
I'm a physiotherapist from Belgium and I'm living now in Malawi. Since I arrived I've been looking for something I could do to help people here. I've been in the field many times and there are many amputees out there. You gave me the desire to create 3D printed prosthetics for people in need here.

I think of starting a crowdfunding campaign and to do so I need to set a budget. I need your knowledges to have an idea of the costs to set up a little clinic. I need your advices for a suitable printer for Africa (good quality for prosthetics use, easy maintenance, long life expectancy, transportable, ... ) I've heard about the "Maker bot". What do you think about that one ? How many printers do I need to start a little clinic ? How many PLA filaments per prosthesis , what type ? I read the forum so I'm already learning from your stories but I launch this topic because I might ask you other advises as I progress in the project. I already thank you for your help !

Romain

Peregrine Hawthorn
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Re: Need your help and experiences for a project

Postby Peregrine Hawthorn » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:18 pm

Makerbot used to be top of the line, but these days they haven't kept up with progress. So far, the most reliable printer out there is the Ultimaker 2. I don't know how portable it is, but the box it comes in keeps it pretty well protected. There may be more rugged printers out there, but this one is pretty good.

For filament, it's important to consider the glass transition point of the plastic. That's the temperature there plastic starts to become malleable. For PLA, that can be achieved in a brick hut on South Sudan in the day (Not Impossible find that out with their Project Daniel, when plastic was melting on the spool). 120 F is enough to hit this point.

ABS has a significantly higher glass transition point, closer to 200 F, and is more durrable, but more difficult to print. I've found It prints well under a steady high heat.

The amount of plastic used depends on the size of hand, but the slicing program Cura will tell you how much filament a print will take, and how much it will cost to make, given the cost of plastic.

I would also recommend looking into using easily sourcable alternatives to usual recommended materials. Instead of close cell sticky back foam, consider leather. Instead of Velcro straps, consider nylon straps find in cat seat belts and backpacks (they collect less dirt, last longer, and are easier to get anywhere). Consider using fingers of rubber gloves instead of Lee-Tippy fingertips.

I don't know anything about running a clinic, but it helps if someone there is fluent in a 3D modeling program that can work directly with .stl files, when you need to modify or customize a device for a special case. That's not an if, but a when. Upper Limb differences are varied and diverse, and even so more when the amputations are traumatic. Some people will need a specialized limb, or have anatomy we've never seen before. In fact, it might even be more common to see people that don't quite fit a current model than one that does.
Heavy duty hand user, and co-designer of the Talon.

I break hands and then tell you how I did it.

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GrandPaul
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Re: Need your help and experiences for a project

Postby GrandPaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 6:54 pm

Romain, welcome to the forum!

I have yet to receive my Ultimaker 2 and start my first hand, but I did a fair amount of studying before deciding on that printer, and the basic Raptor as a starting point. I'll do a thumbless one as soon as possible.

My understanding is you can get 8 hands from one spool of media.

Good to know about PLA melting so easily, although I had gathered it was inferior to ABS from what I read already. We have 110 degrees here in the summer (sometimes higher) in south Texas, so PLA is absolutely OUT!

The materials & hardware kits at $25 will be hard to beat, as it's a "one stop shop". Postage on various bits from various sources pretty much insures that you'll pay more in postage from multiple sources than just buying pre-packaged kits.

As peregrine mentioned, the custom fitting to a wide range of physical forearm structures will be the biggest challenge, and alternate materials can and will help for that aspect.
Paul Zuniga
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GrandPaul
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Re: Need your help and experiences for a project

Postby GrandPaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:15 pm

To your ultimate question: budget to start a clininc...

FIRST: Formulate and put to paper a proper Investor Prospectus. Must be very easy to read and understand, all technical lingo in a separate section, and a fair amount of pre-start-up research already DONE and explained. Incorporate the items below in some order that each section builds on the ones before it; do not describe activities, logistics or aspects of the operation that have no prior explanation (if you understand my meaning, it is as if explaining something to a child, almost).

Way too many variables that I am not familiar with as to your hard overhead cost in the region. Any business model has to include 6 months of overhead costs set aside for STRICT payment of hard overhead AND NOTHING ELSE. Rent, electricity, consumable supplies, etc. DO NOT TOUCH these funds for ANY other use. This also assumes all staffing will be self-paid volunteers that have no support costs from the crowdfunding and/or investor/partners. IF you need to have paid staff, it opens up a whole other can of worms regarding anticipated overhead cost for employees, especially depending on the local government and any stipulations/regulations surrounding employee/employer relationships.

You need to figure paying near full price of about $2,000 per printer, unless you get partner/investors that will underwrite them. I have yet to fully understand print time per hand, but you need to carefully study the anticipated learning curve (zero or near-zero actual production until the equipment and operator(s) know how to make it all work properly). Then possibly the largest hard production cost unit - rolls of filament. This can easily be found by asking those who have produced multiple units.

You must study your public relations and "marketing" plan - how will you make initial contact with the locals? W?ho will be your regular liason? How can you spread the word about the availability of your services? Will this publicity have a direct cost to you that will need to be a part of your project/clinic overhead expenses? If so, it needs to be anticipated at start-up for a 6-month window as with all other overhead costs.

Security of the operation is important. Is the "climate" of the location such that it will be secure from theft, vandalism, and/or tribal (local / regional) distrust or other negativity that may play out on a day-to-day basis that will require a level of hard security? Will it require a physical security person or staff? Is there adequate local police / military, if the security factor is high?

Once you have the operation set up and running, producing hands and getting them on people and in use for several months, you can step back and study the costs, expense flow, etc., and determine whether you need to increase funding sources. By all means CONTINUE communication with potential funding sources, investor/partners, etc. The need for funding never stops, as long as the need for services doesn't stop (and it won't).

So many other things I have never been directly involved with, but need to be known in advance. I hope others will add to this...
Paul Zuniga
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GrandPaul
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Re: Need your help and experiences for a project

Postby GrandPaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:20 pm

"It is easier to ask forgiveness, than to ask permission"

This saying goes a long way IN SOME PLACES, with regards to some of the items I mentioned about dealing with locals.

HOWEVER, it can also get you VERY DEEP into trouble, physical harm, and perhaps even jail.

DO NOT move until you KNOW from locals that you are safe in pouring investment into a project this size. If it is widely known that a small pay-off to a local official is enough to gain favor in processing applications, then by all means take advantage of fact.

If it is known, or even rumored, that attempting to "grease the wheels" will land you in a jail cell, or result in unfair and outrageous (but unavoidable) fines, then be right up front and move slowly.
Paul Zuniga
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