3D printed prosthetics was one of the first things that the media latched onto in covering what 3D printing can do, but since then 3D printing prosthetics has expanded into so many more different areas than just limb recreation. Highlighting different companies within the 3D print industry that have a veteran minded focus to provide technical training for the knowledge and skills gap that exists to use this technology, as well as unique opportunities specifically for veterans. Thank you to all service members that have served or are currently serving!
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Veterans and 3D Printed Prosthetics
It’s getting close to Veteran’s Day so we really thought we’d touch base and talk about 3D printed prosthetics and what’s going on with veterans and how that’s helping veterans. I also want to touch on some companies that are doing some really cool things training veterans for 3D printing. We’ll touch on that first. Let’s talk about the prosthetics side.
3D printed prosthetics is a hot topic. It’s been in the news a lot. This is probably one of the most predominant ways people are recognizing 3D printing as contributing to the medical industry or to that side of it and adding such social value. Prosthetics 3D printing have really been in the news for such a long time. It’s really one of the first things, I think, that the media latched on to and highlighted because it’s doing such a wonderful thing. It’s doing such a wonderful service.
It’s so obviously a customized solution because when you have a 3D printed prosthetic arm or you have a 3D printed prosthetic hand, they need to fit you. The customize portion, it makes it logical for 3D printing in that respect. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s maybe been overplayed in the media. I think that there’s other great tangent things to it to talk about today, which we wanted to get into a little bit.
There’s been even more though than just hands and arms. There’s been 3D models for jaw reconstruction, burn dressings and masks, custom hearing protection, communication devices. All of these are benefiting our veterans and our service members. We need to really be thinking about the power of that and the design and the experimentation for that. Who better to start doing that than our veterans, learning how to 3D print? That’s something poetic. Veterans learning to 3D print and maybe helping other veterans who need 3D printed prosthetic.
3D Veterans is a company that trains veterans for 3D printing high tech jobs for free. They do it for free. They have classes in San Antonio, Texas right now because there’s a large portion of Air Force bases and active and retired service members there. I really hope that it’s really going to expand across the country.
We’ve been talking about what a job hole there is. It would be so interesting to be able to fill it out with our veterans and give them such great jobs and become such an integral value of companies that are doing things, like creating these 3D printed prosthetics. It would be fantastic.
I just read this article. Our very good friend, Nick Ripplinger, a good friend of ours, it’s her son, Betsy Westhafer. I’ve written an article about his book. He has such a great viewpoint on how critically important it is for us to hire vets, for us to give them jobs, give them positions within our company. Not just menial positions. Give them leadership positions.
These are the kind of people who form and are able to lead people, lead a team. Whether it’s their team or as a part of a team, and be flexible under pressure, under extreme pressure. Why wouldn’t you want them as a part of your startup? Why wouldn’t you want them as a part of your company?
Not only do we owe them that because of the service that they provided for our country, but we owe our businesses that. High quality leadership. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want the best possible leadership in your company. Whether it’s middle management leadership or even at the top of the company. There’s always opportunities and needs.
If it’s just a skill gap, like in this space, they haven’t had an opportunity to be trained in 3D printing high tech, then let’s train them. I’m so excited and happy that 3D Veterans has done this. I hope that we’ll be able to get someone on the show at some point in the near future to talk further about what they’re doing and what types of training they’re providing. I just think it’s such great service. We need to do more than just repair our veterans. We need to give them a sustainable future.
Another friend of ours who we actually had as a guest on the podcast before, Aaron Johnson, who is the owner of the company producing the Shotbox. Remember, we talked to you couple months back about the Shotbox? I reviewed it and did some examples. This is a device that really all of you could use. I would highly recommend it for photographing your 3D prints because it’s an ideal little popup photo studio. You use your cellphone to take the pictures. It’s designed to use your cellphone. It uses LED lighting, very efficient.
Anyway, Aaron Johnson actually has a program where he hires veterans to help him in his company, produce his product and deliver his product and ship his product. It’s all in his warehouse, his whole logistical staff, all of that is a veteran based company. Not just that, but he actually hires out. In other words, they’ll do projects for other people who want to sell products into Amazon or other people who want to deliver products and have a product based business.
They have warehouse spaces and you’ll be able to use this veteran labor, should you choose that. I love the value that he provides and how passionate he is about that as well. It actually makes so much sense. It’s a good lesson for other businesses who are considering, “I need to set up my own warehouse space in order to do what I want to do with my product and deliver it the way I want to deliver it.”
Investing in warehouse space is really expensive and the staff to manufacture product. I’m sure many companies who manufacture 3D printers here in the United States have the same issue. If you can have a shared labor force and have a shared warehouse, it helps companies to not bite off more than they maybe should chew early on in their existence. Using the veteran labor force, giving great people jobs who really need them and are among the most loyal workers, disciplined workers, I think it’s just a win-win for everybody.
We’ve been seeing some statistics lately that veterans are choosing entrepreneurship at a much lower rate than ever before. It’s less than 5%. It was incredibly low, the statistic that I read in Forbes. I couldn’t believe how low that rate of entrepreneurship is.
Part of it is that there just isn’t the same programs than there used to be. There used to be parts of abilities for low cost loans for veterans to build businesses after World War II and even after Vietnam and Korea. There was more access to that as part of their GI bills. It’s not there anymore.
We have to find other ways to do things to make sure that that can happen. Veteran businesses, minority businesses, women owned businesses, these are the foundation of our small business community. To not have a significant segment contributing, that’s just not okay. Why would you limit and think that any of these groups of people can’t or shouldn’t do this? They need to be a part of it.
If you’re talking about lending money, I’d rather lend money to someone who has already proven how capable they are of operating something, who understands failing is not an option. I would rather lend money to them. Our veterans are a good bet. We all need to do that. We all need to support them in that way.
On this pre-Veteran’s Day episode that we’re airing here, we just want to say thank you for your service out there. If there’s anything that we can do here at WTFFF?!, both to highlight your company, to raise awareness for what you’re doing, to help bring more focus into the needs of the veteran community, please let us know. We’re here to serve you as well. We’d be more than happy to shine a light on what you’re doing in the 3D printed prosthetics world or otherwise.
Anyway, if you have anything to share with us in the vain or anyway else, please do it at 3DStartPoint.com on both the blog post and in any kind of email messaging that goes on there. You can also do that @3DStartPoint on social media.
- 3D Veterans in San Antonio, Texas
- Naval Post Graduate Dental School Research on Pre-Combat Image Acquisition, Virtual Surgical Technique, Custom Implants and Computer Manufactured Devices
- High Pressure Start-Ups Need Resourceful Front Line Leaders
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