College Student 3D Printed His Own Braces for $60 and Could Change Everything
One college student from New Jersey has created the ultimate DIY project. Amos Dudley, a 24-year-old digital design major at New Jersey Institute of Technology, never felt comfortable about his crooked teeth. Being a broke college student, Dudley was not able to afford his own braces. So, with his knowledge of technology and 3D printing, Dudley printed his own set of braces.
Dudley originally had braces in junior high, but didn’t keep up with maintenance after they were removed. “I felt bad about my teeth- in part because they were crooked, but also because they were a reminder that I had neglected them,” he shared with BuzzFeed. “I felt like I had wasted the money my parents spent on my braces.” Dudley was researching what he could do to fix his problem and as a design student he realized he could make his own with a 3D printer. It wasn’t about just saving money, but also the challenge of the project. “When I realized that I could do something that was a little bit culturally disruptive, while demonstrating my skills as a designer and a maker, and fixing something that was making me self-conscious for virtually free, I felt it was more than worth the risk,” he said Overall, Dudley’s DIY braces totaled less than $60. He wore them for about 16 weeks and documented the process in a blog online. Before braces: After braces: To make the custom braces, Dudley took full advantage of the 3D printer and its equipment. He first scanned and printed a model of his teeth and then molded a non-toxic plastic mold around them to make 12 different sets of the braces. Using animation, Dudley was able to figure out how to make the adjustment in each set. “I planned the path my teeth would take as a 3-D animation, so that they wouldn’t collide with each other along the path,” he shared with the Huffington Post in an email. “I used each frame of the animation as an aligner step. I determined the number of steps (frames) I needed by looking up the maximum distance a tooth can be safely moved within a given period of time.” While this project may have been successful for Dudley, he doesn’t recommend trying it at home. Dudley didn’t consult an orthodontist for this project and stuck to journal articles and textbooks to gather his information. Many are now suggesting for Dudley to go into the 3D printing business, but Dudley isn’t planning on making a second pair anytime soon. “I feel like I can freely smile again,” Dudley shared on his blog. “That’s what’s most important.”
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