According to the Canadian non-profit organisation Victoria Hand Project (VHP), the number of amputees in war-torn Ukraine is approaching half a million. The project is combining materials from BASF Forward AM with UltiMaker 3D printers to provide high-performance prosthetics to those in urgent need.
“By harnessing the print quality and mechanical properties of Forward AM Ultrafuse PLA PRO1 in addition to the exceptional dependability from UltiMaker, Victoria Hand Project creates prosthetic hands that not only meet functional requirements, but also empower users. These hands are not only just tools; they become symbols of resilience, self-assurance, and durability in the daily lives of amputees,” said Michael Peirone, CEO of Victoria Hand Project.
VHP was established in July 2015, and has since formed clinical partnerships in 11 countries. By using 3D printing technology and materials, the project works to create ‘affordable and customisable’ prosthetic arms called the Victoria Hands. The project says that as it expands, it is depending on collaborators such as BASF Forward AM and UltiMaker to provide support in facilitating long-term, sustainable prosthetic care.
Martin Back, CEO and Managing Director of Forward AM said: “We are proud to partner with Victoria Hand Project and to jointly support the people in need in Ukraine. As an industry leader in 3D printing, we strive to consistently provide best-in-class materials and solutions for applications limited only by our customers’ imaginations.
“But the opportunity to support VHP, an organisation using Additive Manufacturing to reshape the lives of amputees around the world, is something that goes beyond the day-to-day tasks of doing business. It adds a feeling of deep purpose and a stronger sense of why we do what we do. It’s not just printed plastic. It’s hope, independence, and a better quality of life.”
According to BASF, the use of its ULtrafuse PLA PRO1 contributes to the functionality of the hand itself as the material is optimised for quality, speed, strength, and reliability, as well as enhancing the aesthetics of the prosthesis. UltiMaker says that the ‘ease of use’ of its machines is crucial for clinicians that may be inexperienced with the technology.
With the launch of Victoria Hand Project’s “Hands for Ukraine” campaign, the project will raise funds to support the on-demand prosthetic care for individuals in the country. VHP aims to fundraise 200,000 USD to support this.
In April 2023, Reuters reported on a document entitled “Russia/Ukraine – Assessed Combat Sustainability and Attrition”, an assessment collated by the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, that detailed statistics of casualties in the conflict. It said that Ukraine has suffered 124,000 to 131,000 total casualties, including 15,500 to 17,500 killed in action and 109,000 to 113,000 wounded in action.
According to the Victoria Hand Project, between 25% and 35% of Ukranians injured in the war are amputees who will need specialised medical support, in addition to 400,000 existing amputees in the country, most of which have little to no access to prosthetic care.
In January 2023, VHP completed a successful pilot project in Ukraine. A team member travelled to two partner sites to conduct initial training, set up equipment, and to demonstrate fittings by providing five in-need amputees with prosthetic arms. The project is seeking to make the partnerships in Ukraine permanent and on-going by training local prosthetists and technology experts to 3D print, assemble, and provide Victoria Hands on-demand to those who need them.
The project’s expansion into Ukraine will include equipping two partner sites in Lyiv and Vinnytsia with 3D printing and scanning tools, as well as equipping the sites with supplies for prosthetic fittings. It will also include fully-funding high-quality prosthetic care for 100 Ukrainian amputees and laying groundwork for more to receives care according to the project.
VHP says that if its fundraising efforts exceed the initial goal set, additional funds will be added to increase the number of prosthetic arms being produced.
Nadav Goshen, CEO of UltiMaker added: “We are thrilled to be a long-term partner of Victoria Hand Project and continue to support its mission to deliver prosthetic hands to people in need. With the UltiMaker 3D printing ecosystem on location, clinicians can print parts on-demand, providing better prosthetic support to their communities. By expanding access to prosthetic care with 3D printing, we believe we can help address the needs of individuals with limb loss or limb differences, promoting empowerment, inclusivity, and overall well-being.”