After his wife struggled to find confidence and comfort with the current standard of prosthetics, Tim Carr, partner of breast cancer survivor Fay Cobbett, found inspiration in his 3D-printing business to design a revolutionary new breed of prosthetics.
Along with his colleagues he used 3D scanning and 3D printed molds to innovate a new kind of personalized breast prostheses designed to be more comfortable and authentic than alternatives.
Current Prosthetics Slowly Deteriorate
The issue with current prosthetics is that they can be uncomfortable, with many women finding that they don’t sit quite right. In addition, current prosthetics don’t have longevity, they must be replaced after a certain length of time. This means that breast cancer survivors not only face the prospect paying for costly replacements in the future, they also face a threat to self confidence as their prosthetics lose their shape.
Tim Carr and his company myReflection developed a solution to address these key issues. Using a 3D scanner to obtain detailed imagery and dimensions of the torso, a 3D printer can then reconstruct prosthetics that are personal to each woman, fitting to their body in a more natural way than can be achieved with alternative prosthetics.
In addition, the prosthetic breast are printed with both an inner core and an ISO-certified outer silicone for optimum comfort and longevity. The material is incredibly durable, resistant to tearing and elastic. They are designed to last around four years before they need replacing.
3D Printed Breast Prostheses Provide Comfort and Longevity That Current Prosthetics Can’t
During a battle with breast cancer, Fay Cobbett had one of her breasts removed through a mastectomy. Her decision was to wear prosthetics following the surgery, however, she struggled to feel comfortable wearing the currently available prosthesis which is inserted into a mastectomy bra. In the end, Cobbett felt self conscious wearing the uncomfortable, heavy and ill-fitting prosthesis, and she finally opted to not wear it at all. She and her partner Tim Carr began the journey of finding a breast prothesis that was custom-fit, lightweight, and could be worn with a regular bra. Being the owner of a 3D printing company, the couple began to explore how they could innovate this themselves with the help of this new technology
Alongside his colleague, Jason Barnett, Carr developed a custom-fit breast prosthesis, constructed based on 3D scans of the individual woman’s torso. It’s made from a specially designed soft inner core that is able to mold to the body without gaps or pressure points that are common with current prosthetics. The outer core they developed uses ISO-certified silicone, making it durable and long lasting. The product is also cheaper than those already available on the market, resulting in an affordable, long-lasting, comfortable option that is specially designed to fit to each woman’s body, giving them confidence in the prosthetic.
Affordability with 3D Printing
Prosthetic breasts have to be replaced due to the nature of them being a product that is generally worn and used every day. Products that currently dominate the space are both expensive and susceptible to damage and deterioration. This leads to women having to foot the cost for expensive replacements regularly to continue to use products in good condition.
As well as improving on comfort and wearability, the prosthetic designed by myReflection can be produced at a lower cost. These savings are passed onto the consumer, resulting in a prosthetic that costs just NZ$613 (US$408). In addition, given that the prosthetics are designed to last longer, the product becomes even more affordable due to the decreased frequency at which they need to be replaced.
Currently the product is only available in New Zealand, but given the advancement in prosthetic technology that it offers, it is hoped that eventually it will be more widely available in the coming years.