In the Fablab Low Cost Prosthesis programme we developed the technology to produce a 'lower knee' prosthesis in line with the open innovation principles, so that end users, designers, researchers and manufacturers could arrive at product innovations by joint effort. The Fablab prosthesis programme has emerged as possible business case for the HONFablab in Jogyakarta, Indonesia. The idea behind it was that Fablab Yogyakarta could provide prostheses for two people per day. By doing so, it could empower the locals by creating new jobs and spread the orthopaedic knowledge.
The aim of this programme was to research how a developing country (like Indonesia) could become self-reliant in building prostheses. How can the Fablab infrastructure enhance and accelerate the production of ‘lower knee’ prostheses? An example was to develop low-cost tools, like an alignment laser (as a DIY kit) and portable 3D scanner. This could supply the country with modern equipment to improve the orthopaedic quality of protheses. Furthermore, the search for locally available materials was an important aspect.
In this development process both specialists and end users were involved, which grew into an international cooperation between Fablab Amsterdam, the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (New Delhi, India), the arctic Fablab Norway, MIT Biomechatronics Group in Boston and HONF Indonesia.
The programme was set up in collaboration with House of Natural Fiber (HONF), a media & art laboratory in Yogyakarta. HONF is an interdisciplinary group, existing of artists, designers, technicians, sociologists and planners. Their mission is the technological empowerment of local and social communities. HONF develops productive, creative projects and methods to anchor technology in society.
At Fablab Amsterdam, Alex Schaub and Michael Boulay both worked on the design of the low-cost, self-adjustable prosthesis. A number of interns also worked on parts of the prosthesis during their research period in the lab.