What problem did you set out to solve?

For many amputees, limb loss can often have such a negative impact on body image that functional activity and societal participation are adversely affected. However, studies have shown that when amputees are satisfied with the appearance of their prosthesis, they experience a reduction in mental health symptoms like depression or anxiety, and report a better quality life. So how do you change the appearance of a prosthetic without compromising the functionality? Well, that’s where “prosthetic covers” come into play.

What is your project all about?

Chameleon prosthetics was born out of the desire to help prosthetic users restore their self- confidence and express their creativity and individuality. I aim to build the bridge between medical and fashion and ultimately eliminate the awkward barrier that comes with new social interaction. In fact, a prosthetic covers provides a forum for conversation and social connection.

In order to do this, I had to come up with an entirely new design that could be fully customized and altered to fit the personality of its user without compromising functionality. I also had to create a website that gives users complete creative freedom to design their own cover models, as well as a few pre-customized options for users that don’t feel the need for full customization.

Home Page

Collections Page

Product Page

Customization Form Page

FAQ Page

How did you accomplish your goals?

I spent approximately two weeks gathering research from medical websites and other companies that currently produce custom prosthetic covers. I took my findings and applied them to my design in terms of functionality in Fusion 360. This was definitely no easy task. I spent a significant amount of time discussing design techniques with RJ in our 1:1’s and watching tutorials of similar projects until I was able to produce the cover shape I have now. When I was ready to actually print my design, I spoke with a gentlemen at Ideaforge who was able to answer all my questions about the printing process. For the customization piece, I spent a lot of time playing with materials in Substance and Adobe Dimensions until I was able to overlay graphics or images smoothly across the surface. For my website, I had to create a customized form on a platform called Jotform that included the most relevant information for requesting a fully customized cover.

What resources did you make use of?

To create the initial sketch of my model I used the Procreate app on my Ipad. To create the model itself, I used Fusion 360. I spent majority of my time in this application shaping the body of my model. I also used an application called Meshmixer to re-mesh the body so that I could smooth out any unwanted, ridged elements. To explore different material overlays, I used Adobe Dimensions. With a very limited selection, I decided to subscribe to Substance where I was able to download and test a much wider variety of materials on my model. After finding a few materials that I thought complimented my design, I exported the different models out of Adobe Dimensions for Aero (augmented reality) and imported them into a platform called Vectary. With Vectary, I was able to create beautiful 3D turntable displays for my website. For my e-commerce website, I started with a trial version of Squarespace and then eventually switched over to Wordpress because of multiple content display problems. I also used Ideaforge to print my 50% scale model prototype.

What challenges did you encounter? What worked? What didn’t?

I ran into quite a few problems with this project. The majority of technical problems I encountered came from within the CAD programs I was using. In Fusion 360, I spent days trying to figure out how to shape the form I wanted for the cover. I started by importing a model of a human leg. I then extruded a sketch of a circle from the bottom of the ankle to the top of the knee and tried utilizing the T-Spline pull function. I quickly realized that forming the cover to the exact dimensions of a leg wouldn’t produce the shape I wanted, so I had to abort the idea and return to square one.

The next time I re-extruded the circle to the same dimensions as before, but then converted it back into a T-Spline to edit the shape with the edit form function. After a few days of trial and error, I was finally able to produce the shape that I wanted and cleanly convert it into a mesh body.

My next objective was to create a turntable display for my model that looked more professional than the displays we created with Sketchfab. I eventually found a platform called Vectary that initially worked well; but when I tried to generate the viewer, I’d receive an error because the body had too many mesh faces. I then had to download an application called Meshmixer so that I could re-mesh the body. Re-meshing the body was fairly simple. I only had to re-mesh about three seperate times until the body came out smoothly. Once that was completed, I imported my new revised model into Adobe Dimensions where I was able to test some different material overlays. Since there was such limited options for materials, I decided to download Substance to test out a wider range of materials. I eventually learned that I could simply place an image in the graphic overlay utility and rescale it to cover the full body.

After generating all of my content, I then began to create the website. At first, everything was going smoothly and looked great. Then something happened in Squarespace that somehow deleted of all the code I embedded throughout the site. After going through FAQ’s and trying multiple solutions that proved unsuccessful, I decided to recreate the website in Wordpress with a theme I’ve been working with for a while now called Flatsome. This visual builder allowed me more freedom and provided a much wider range of capabilities, but didn’t have an advanced e-commerce product page builder so I had to keep the product pages I made in Squarespace to present. The only other small problem I had was with the customization form. I was able to create everything I needed for the form, but couldn't embed it in my website without displaying the source at the bottom.

Whats next for this project?

Next steps would be getting my hands on an actual prosthetic leg so I can test the functionality and fit of my design. I also plan to set up a meeting with an amputee I met at the gym who worked as an executive for multiple prosthetic companies and used a prosthetic arm specifically designed for weightlifting. After briefly speaking with him, he told me that If I was serious about this project, he could connect me with some amazing people in the industry that would be happy to discuss my concept and answer any of my questions.

In terms of customization, I am going to play with some custom hydrodip films and practice wrapping them cleanly over the covers. I would also like to start designing different cover model variations; for example, one that has a completely open back and another that has a two-piece closed cover.

What are your major takeaways? What did you learn / discover?

I learned a lot about motion restriction, functionality of prosthetics and how to design covers that don’t hinder abilities. I also discovered that the few companies that currently produce prosthetic covers typically offer pre-customized options instead of allowing users to fully customize their own cover.

I learned all about the printing process, the best materials to use for my covers and the best way to overlay custom graphics or images. Most importantly, I learned that creating a product like this takes patience and determination, as a significant part of the process is trail and error.

Overall, I learned how rewarding it can be to see the product you design come to life.