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Dell Technologies World Disruptive Technology is Changing Perceived Wisdom
May 2, 2019 Blog 3D printing


Dell Technologies World – Disruptive Technology is Changing Perceived Wisdom.


The theme of day three at Dell Technologies World 2019 was “optimism and happiness” in the digital age. Earlier in the week,  Dell had spoken about an internal project with their own employees 3D printing Prosthetic hands. We delved in further believing this to be a great example of why we should be optimistic about what powerful modern technology can do for us.

For children born without hands or lost hands in an accident, the perceived wisdom of the medical community has traditionally been not to spend time or money on fitting a functioning prosthetic.

The rationale being that the cost and time to fit a limb is too high to justify for a child who will outgrow the prosthetic within months and potentially even between the time between measurement and delivery.

At Dell technologies World, a touching story was related to us in the opening keynote session, about Dell employees who had children with dysmelia (the term for congenital limb differences) who found a volunteer network that is creating functioning prosthetics using open source designs and 3D printers.

Via the Dell intranet these employees found they were sharing the same problem and with some help from colleagues from Deloitte, these parents were able to use 3D printers in the Dell OEM team’s offices to get a prosthetic hand printed for their daughter. It was literally life-changing for her. The whole story can be viewed at this Dell blog –


The key is that to 3D print a prosthetic hand that gives movement and dexterity capability to the recipient takes about 14 hours to print and another 4 hours to assemble. The price is just a few hundred dollars. When compared to the weeks or longer and $10,000 plus it can cost for traditional prosthetics it becomes clear to see how new disruptive technologies can change perceived wisdom.

Doctors and surgeons had the technology to build prosthetic hands for children, but the time and economics when weighed up against the time it would remain usable didn’t stack up. As a result parents with children suffering from this problem had to accept that their children would have to grow up using static “fake hands” for cosmetic appearance or hooks to help with some functionality. It was accepted that these fully functioning prosthetics only made sense to be made for adults once they have finished growing.

At the same time, in emerging nations, people of all ages simply can’t afford traditional prosthetics.

The story is heartwarming and highlights the positive effect that new technologies can have in our lives.

At the same time it should serve as a lesson that whether for altruistic means or for business, its incumbent on those of us who run companies or organisations to constantly be asking how can we change our business or industry with technology, because perceived wisdom can be a dangerous thing when it comes to business in the digital age.