By Anayat Durrani

Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is changing the way prosthetics are manufactured and, in the process, changing the lives of military amputees. 

By the close of 2015, more than 1,600 soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan had major limb amputations due to wounds suffered during combat, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

UNYQ is one company using 3-D printing to give “amputees a way to express themselves authentically,” says CEO Eythor Bender. 3-D printing is a process of turning digital 3-D models into solid objects and has helped wounded servicemembers in their recovery by allowing them to be part of the design process. 

Bender says veterans have input in the design of their prosthetic cover and can choose from 30 standard designs and colors or custom create their own design. He says the shape and volume of the cover “will mimic their sound limb to recreate symmetry between their legs.” 

Bender says many insurance companies and the VA reimburse for UNYQ prosthetic covers, so there is no cost to the veteran.

Army veteran Katherine Crawford, who lost her leg in a training-related injury, says her custom UNYQ prosthetic cover has changed the conversation from people asking, “What happened?” to saying, “Wow, that's cool!”