Using recycled plastics to create an artificial leg has made such prosthetics more readily available for amputees in developing countries.
Spotted: Springwise frequently focuses on innovations designed to help those with disabilities. A group of students from the UAE have created a wheelchair that helps users during air travel. In addition, a travel startup has dedicated itself to providing holiday accommodation for disabled travellers. Now, a low-cost artificial leg could drastically help amputees in developing countries.
Project Circleg uses recycled plastic for a prosthetic leg. The use of readily available waste materials in the construction of the artificial leg means that it costs far less than standard. The affordability of the limb means that it can help amputees in developed countries get access that they might otherwise lack. High-cost prostheses have always been a problem for amputees in less developed countries. Many are forced to create artificial limbs themselves, from various materials at hand. This is detrimental to their health and recovery.
The Circleg began as an undergraduate project by Fabian Engel and Simon Oschwald, both industrial design students at the Zurich University of the Arts. Now it has flourished into a growing startup. It is suitable for amputees with above and below-the-knee amputations. All of its parts can also be manufactured to adjust to the specifications of the individual user. Injection moulding and extrusion enable the user to differentiate between the necessary parts.
In terms of construction, the plastic waste pairs with reinforcing glass fibres. This composite material meets the high-performance needs of a leg prosthesis. Circleg is also able to repair or replace individual parts, without having to replace the entire prosthesis, helping to cut costs further.
The company is currently focusing on Kenya, but has plans to expand its design further.