Bespoke Innovations [update]

Scott Summit explains his "Bespoke Innovations" project that was founded in 2009 [see previous blog entry]. He essentially scans people and recreates prosthetic parts with 3D printing / rapid prototyping technology.

Image Copyright (C) Bespoke Innovations.

Video from Stanford University's Entrepreneurship Corner:

Update 2019, the Bespoke Innovations seems to have vanished. Here is a link to "Summit ID".

Is that new?

No, of course not.

Highly aesthetic non-anatomically surfaced prostheses are not something Bespoke Innovations invented or that they even deliver in a particular glory.

In particular, they miss out on replacing hands or arm parts (you came here on your own personal account and you did read the title of my blog, right?). Even though, prosthetic hands were made to look fashionable on a systematic basis before Scott came along. So let us list some historical milestones.

My red hand project did cause serious reactions from not just one or two but from a whole number of people.

Some serious projects followed or picked up threads and other ideas, such as the Super Prosthetics Project and an academic study at the Delft University in the Netherlands.

Really cool design for prosthetic sockets is offered by Dan Horkey [GTOPI] or other people just doing free art on their prostheses [my own art series; Australian exhibition December 2010].

Currently, I wear Becker hands and Centri custom made dark red cosmetic PVC gloves complete with skin, vein and nail structure. So, from an industrial view, Centri is the one to best support custom design user requirements at the moment. As far as my eye reaches, there are no other companies.

And as far as I know, no prosthetic hand manufacturer took it upon themselves to offer artsy hand appearances. Other than the Monestier hand that is available commercially as custom made item that is mirrored to one's remaining hand, there are none such products up for grabs.

Sifting through uncharted territory, I am.

Are they seriously 3D scanning stumps to create sockets?

Cannot be serious.

A good socket fit in my experience requires cast modeling and test socket refinement best done manually by an experienced technician - no way my uncompressed stump reflects a sensible socket shape.

Why does Scott Summit offer no prosthetic arms?

If it is 3D printed at once in all it's glorious complexity, as Scott elaborates - just reverse engineer a Carnes or Becker arm and take it from there. I would assume he does not want to compete against Utah Arm, Fillauer and Otto Bock.

Also, they have a marketing guy. He probably is the one that ruins it for the arm amputees. So, again, and as always, we're on our own. Good though that I started to realize that really early and start to work on my designs myself.

Besides, there are many leg amputees and far less arm amputees. Given that arm amputees are a lot more difficult to work with anyway, best to stay away from arm amputees.

Insurance companies have to pay for that?

I think we need pathways to cheap solutions for design. Insurances never pay to make people emotionally balanced and happy. If at all they pay for functional rehabilitation.

What is necessary is a set, tool kit, a choice, a whole range of feasible and available solutions for amputees that address symmetry, well being and experimenting and evaluating what makes us feel better. Invariably I will want to play with improved looks once that is entirely within reach. Any glove that looks great and that covers my prosthetic hand and that costs me 105 Euro (such as Centri's custom made cosmetic dark red prosthetic hand glove) is within reach. A design experiment that costs 12'000$ is prohibitively priced because at that price range I spend money to boost my ego differently - at that level I won't invest in degradable plastics of strange limb replacement attempts any more, I am afraid.

What to do about prosthetic design innovation?

It appears to be rather alluring to sell people the "3D scan stump" idea. You will likely get some newbies to go for it. I don't know experienced folks that do. US based amputees should get Randy Alley from BioDesigns.COM to make them a high tech socket. He patented some of his ideas or so it appears. World wide, simply resort to good old school prosthetic socket making - that is no different from Randy's ideas. Sockets must be tight over soft spots and comfortable over hard spots. While lots of technical gadgets can be used to approximate the best result, an experienced prosthetic technician and an experienced user can work out the optimal shape using no more than a few PET sheets, plaster cast and some modelling materials in a few weeks and without any drama. So, consider the socket done.

What we really need is something mildly different:

  • Standardized interfaces for shell or plastic surface covers and sockets. Can these be standard nut and bolt patterns? Can they be dimensioned so there will always be a fit?
  • Can such shell covers be pre-produced and then adapted on-location? Such as 3D paper models?
  • Can they match PVC gloves that fit existing prosthetic hooks and hands? Can PVC glove manufacturers be persuaded to match some socket shell covers with similar designs?
  • Can prosthetic hands be also standardized to be equipped with hard plastic appearance shells? Or rubbers? Such as iPhone skins, or clothes that we wear?
  • Can there be a low end trial option? To test materials and usability? Before I spend any larger amount I want to get a 150 USD test ride with an uncolored setup just to see whether the stuff holds up.

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Bespoke Innovations [update]; published 02/11/2011, 21:06; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1603884639, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Bespoke Innovations [update]}}, month = {November},year = {2011}, url = {}}