Victoria 3D printing initiative expands to help amputees in Canada

An initiative from the University of Victoria that has provided 3D-printed prosthetics to developing countries since 2015 is expanding to help people here at home. 

The Victoria Hand Project (VHP) was launched in 2015 by UVic professor Nick Dechev. The non-profit initiative uses 3D printers to provide low-cost arm prosthetics to seven developing countries. 

The organization has since received $1 million after winning the 2019 TD Ready Challenge, money that COO Michael Peirone says will be used to expand the program in Canada and the U.S. 

"We want to work in more remote areas in Canada, because we know there's a lot of people outside of a major city," Peirone said on CBC's All Points West. 

The money will be used to fit 220 amputees with hand prostheses and 160 children with scoliosis braces over the next three years, Peirone said. 

The funding will also be used to set up seven print centres across North America as well as clinics to refer patients living in remote regions, he added. 

Armando Tura

Costs of prosthetics

Unlike a regular prosthetic arm, which can cost between $2,000 and $5,000, Peirone says their 3D printed arm prosthetic costs about $80 US to make. 

Similarly, a scoliosis brace costs VHP about $150 US to make versus the regular $3,000-$5,000 price. Such a brace is not covered by health care in Canada, Peirone explains. 

He is hoping VHP's experience in developing countries will allow it to have the new North American clinics up and running as soon as possible.