I know it sounds like a completely outrageous statement, I know, but you’ll believe it in a second.
First we had Pony Express, then fax machines, email and now 3D printing. With the ability to print something out of just about any material known to man at this point, and the ability to send your print instructions in an email, its the closest we have to teleportation. Heck, we’re even seeing 3D modeling masters create 3D model instructions that can be purchased online, creating a new industry in itself.
Sure it takes a few hours to print the instructions, but it’s there. And that time is only going to head towards zero as the companies that make them figure out how to make them print faster so they can sell more. With the amount of time it takes for knowledge to double at this point in time, I’d give it 2–3 years before we’re printing instantly.
Beyond that, it’s going to enable the world to bring ideas to life that previously would have required extensive investment. I used 3D printing to solve my plantar fasciitis problem.
As a college athlete I experienced lots of injuries, from sprained ankles to separated shoulders and torn groins all the way to major concussions — the worst of which was probably plantar fasciitis. Not because it’s the most painful (although it can be damn near crippling at times), but because it’s a nagging injury that never fully goes away.
Physical therapists will give you some exercises then tell you to roll on a golf ball or a frozen water bottle. The rolling on a golf ball is to help alleviate the pain that comes from an inflamed fascia by manipulating the muscle using self myofascial release (SMR). The cold combats the inflammation by literally cooling it down.
Being a trainer myself, I immediately looked for alternatives. There had to be some combination that dug deeper and also provided the cold therapy.
A quick Google search of cold therapy ball lends you a solid choosing of options, the first being made by SPRI. The SPRI Hot/Cold Therapy balls come in two phenotypes: Smooth and Medieval. The balls are made of a very sturdy plastic and filled with a fluid that allows the ball to sit in the freezer but not fully freeze over
I blame the spiked version on America’s obsession with more correlating with being better. It’s assumed that if a small amount of tactile experience to dig a little deeper into the fascia helps decrease pain faster, a lot must be better. The unfortunate fact is that recklessly digging too deep (even if it’s because you’re uneducated on the subject, which isn’t your fault) can cause more harm than good. The other downfall to the spikes is that because they’re so thin, you never really experience the cold therapy. The spikes are long enough off that the cold disperses from each rod within thirty seconds or so but yet your foot is far enough off the core of the ball that you won’t experience the cold at the core of the ball.
While these are the top product on Google, I chose them because they are very representative of what’s available on the market.
I saw this as a perfect opportunity to use my Corrective Exercise Certification that I picked up through the National Academy of Medicine to create a product to disrupted the market.
The first step was to sketch out what this product would look like. The product needed to be as small as a golf ball to fit the crevices in the foot better, tactile enough to experience a deeper SMR therapy but also not so long that the extrusions would inhibit the user from experiencing the cold therapy that comes from the core.
I was fortunate that one of my best friends, Rod, had a 3D printer at his disposal and also happened to be one of the top architectural students on the campus. With his 3D modeling skills, anything I wanted to make real could be in front of me within a few hours.
The first prototype was not exactly what I was looking for but it blew my mind that something I had only thought of a few days before, something that I had only just sketched on paper, was tangible. Imagine when these things are cheap enough that everyone can afford them and they print instantly.
After hours of remodeling the prototype in his 3D modeling program, Rod had created exactly what I had envisioned.
In order to create the cold therapy experience we decided a mixture of alcohol and water would be the best option. With a little alcohol the water wouldn’t freeze over but it would allow it to get very cold. And after filling the ball with liquid we’d simply seal it with Gorilla glue.
Within a couple weeks I had thought of, researched, concepted and created a product that would solve my problems.
Think of the power this will give to the general public. This creates an equal playing field for makers that don’t have the capital to invest in prototyping at mass quantity prices. We can all make our dreams. Sure you’re always gonna have some Honey Boo Boo-ish products but ultimately this is a game changer. And I look forward to seeing what comes of it.
I’ve seen the future, and the future looks good.
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