3D Printing and Positive Impact in Colombia: A Personal Journey
Hi, my name is Adam Armfield and I am the founder and CEO of a 3D printing business (Universo 3D) and also a non profit called Humanos3d.org in Medellin, Colombia. 3D printing is a hot topic and one of today’s most exciting and disruptive technologies. It is pushing the boundaries of many industries with advances in areas as diverse as biotechnology, aviation to arts and science. It’s rapidly becoming a core technology and is being integrated into STEM and Universities subjects on a global scale. Today I will highlight how my team at Humanos 3D uses this technology to positively impact the lives of those affected by Colombia’s ongoing civil war.
We design and fabricate 3D printed prosthetics and robotics and recently, in reaction to the COVID-19 Crisis, we rapidly adapted our work processes to fabricate personal protective equipment and prototype parts for ventilators to donate to under-resourced hospitals within Colombia. A key part of running a non profit is prospecting and developing strategic relations to enable us to reach those in need and also to identify and build partnerships that allow us to fund our work. The second part of this blog will look at how we applied specific online prospecting and technology tools to take our fundraising and awareness-raising to the next level.
Changing Medicine One Print at a Time
3D-printed prosthetics are changing the face of medicine, as engineers, physicians and even students are able to develop prosthetics that are fully customized to the wearer. Consumer 3D printing is leading to an even bigger revolution: \"DIY\" assistive devices that can be printed by virtually anyone, anywhere. Humanos 3D works alongside e-Nable which is a network of passionate volunteers using 3D printing to give the World a \"Helping Hand.\" Besides 3D printing technology, what has really driven this movement is the open-source technology and designs.
Efficiency in Production: 3D Printing's Promise
Every new invention can be replicated, tested and improved in a matter of days if not hours at minimal costs. Traditional methods of fabrication can take months and cost 10’s of thousands of dollars in design and production costs. A normal prosthetic can cost anywhere from US$5000 to US$150,000 dollars and take 6 months or more to deliver. Using 3D printing, volunteers and open-source designs, we have reduced this time to a matter of days and reduced costs to less than a thousand dollars. This is just one sign of the power of 3d printing in the 4th industrial revolution.
Facing the Challenges: Operational Costs and Outreach
Even with volunteers and open-source designs, we still have operational costs like any organization and logistical problems. 2 of the key problems that we faced were being able to find people in need in remote and war-torn locations. Many of these potential clients (we use this term loosely as all of our devices are donated and we never charge the recipients) are from rural areas with limited resources and access to technology. This presents 2 unique problems. Firstly they may never know we exist and secondly, it can be costly to travel across Colombia on several occasions to take measurements and receive training. The other issue we face is securing funding to cover the costs of the prosthetics and travel for those who are in need. We also provide transport and accommodation. Lack of funds to pay for a bus or hotel has restricted many of Colombia’s poorest people from ever receiving an assistive device.
Embracing New Strategies: The Parrolabs Collaboration
We recently worked with Laura Cotes from Parrolabs to assist us with new strategies to address these 2 key issues. Awareness raising and FundRaising. Using a set of digital prospecting and online tools which are provided by Parrolabs, we were able to identify and contact hundreds of high-value contacts. Traditionally we had 2 full-time volunteers researching organizations, writing grant applications and follow-ups. This is an extremely time consuming and lengthy process with a very low success rate especially for start-up nonprofits. Within weeks of utilizing Parrolabs prospecting tools, we were having direct conversations with the right people in organizations that aligned with our values and needs. Within 3 months of utilizing these tools, we had developed more strategic relations (which we utilized to achieve our awareness and fundraising goals) than 3 years of work!
Leveraging Technology: A Game-Changer for Organizations
Technology can help us improve on costs and delivery outcomes in manufacturing. It can also accelerate our efforts in crucial areas such as partnership building, fundraising, awareness-raising and marketing.What are your organization's current goals and how has technology impacted your workflow? Leave your comments below or contact Parrolabs to see how they can potentially take your organization to the next level using some of today’s most powerful technology tools. If you would like to see more of our work please visit us at:
Humanos3d on Facebook and Instagram or www.humanos3d.org.
If you would like to make a donation we accept most forms of payment
Give us a hand and we promise to give many more.
Written by Adam Armfield