Conversion of plastic bottles into prosthetic limbs is the most nascent value proposition of energy and healthcare researchers. Such a conversion will not just help in saving huge sums of money, but could also tackle environmental pollution. Plastic bottles are amongst the leading contributors to environmental degradation. This has led several energy researchers to find pragmatic ways of disposing these bottles. However, the development of prosthetic limbs from these bottles is far from ordinary practice.
Understanding the Process of Moulding
A researcher from De Montfort University, Leicester pioneered the development of a prosthetic limb made out of plastic bottles. Further, they recycled the bottles before using them to manufacture prosthetic aids. DMU’s senior lecturer, Dr. K Kandan explains that we can grind plastic bottles to get granulated wafers. Further, we can use these wafers to spin polyester yarns that can solidify on heating. The lightweight material from this process is moulded to form prosthetic limbs.
The average cost of manufacturing a prosthetic limb using existing technologies is £5000. In sharp contrast to this, prosthetic limbs made from plastic bottles cost a mere £10. Hence, the new technology could help in developing cost-efficient and durable prosthetic devices. Reduction in plastic pollution is a premium advantage of using this technology. Dr. Kandan believes that plastic recycling and development of affordable prosthetics are two important global concerns. Also, he states that the intent to develop comfortable and durable prosthetics was the reason for success.
Sourcing Funds for Research
Global Challenges Research Funding (GCRF) supported the research and development of this new technology. GCRF funds novel research initiatives that can help in addressing problems faced by developing countries. A UK-based body for medical research, the Academy of Medical Sciences, also backed the development of this technology. DMU was the first to develop the prosthetic limb socket. And, researchers tested the product on patients in India. Further, one of the patients was amputated below the knee and the other above it.