Meet Scott Summit. For 20 years he was an industrial designer. He innovated products such as the Palm Pilot and various electronic devices. However, this proved to be not enough for him and so, with no education in biology of course, he moved into the field of prosthetics.
In his TED Talk, he explains that, “The first thing you see about prosthetic limbs is that they are engineering brilliance”. They help bring functionality into one’s life and help them immensely. However, something is missing. What is missing is the beauty and the personality and the elegance of the human body. The curves and the imperfections and the uniquness of limbs. So, while prosthetics are brilliant and functional, this is seldom enough for those who have to live with them. Summit therefore created a new design philosophy, he states, “When you’re designing for the body, maybe the thing isn’t to design for mass production, but to design with the body in mind.” So, he turned away from industrial mass production and started with the person.
His plan of attack, 3D printing.
He starts by scanning the residual limb and mirrors it over so he can create something as unique as the clients own finger print. Then he takes the client’s personality into account and creates something that he or she can connect with. His goal, is not to make something that is unrecognizable as a prosthetic but something “unapologetically manmade”, something so cool that the client can’t wait to show the world.
One client in particular, Deborah, wanted her curves back. She wanted something personal and feminine. So, Summit created a lace pattern where the lace gave form to the leg instead of the leg giving form to the lace. He also made her one that matched her purse, just because he could. The lace and purse designs connected Deborah to what is now part of her. Therefore joining engineering brilliance and functionality with human nature and personality.