Nikita Replyanskis musical 3D printed prosthetic arms turn heads at Moscow fashion week

Mar 29, 2017 | By Benedict

Earlier this month, Moscow’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week showcased some spectacular 3D printed prosthetic arms made by designer Nikita Replyanski and Russian prosthesis manufacturer Motorica. The 3D printed prostheses, inspired by robots and butterflies, were made using Autodesk Fusion 360.

Fashion weeks, whether they’re being held in the “Big Four” fashion capitals of the world or elsewhere, tend to favor style over substance. It’s called a fashion week, after all, not a function week. But that doesn’t mean that the industry events don’t occasionally showcase items that are as sensible as they are stylish. Just have a look at what was on show at Moscow’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week earlier this month.

While not usually an event of major global interest like Paris Fashion Week, the Russian fashion show brought together a host of top designers looking to show off their fall/winter 2017-2018 collections. Amongst those designers was Nikita Replyanski, a Russian designer and concept artist who left the computer games industry three years ago to focus on designing physical, non-virtual items. But rather than show off dresses, shoes, hats, Replyanski was presenting something totally different: 3D printed prosthetic arms.

Built in collaboration with Russian prosthesis manufacturer Motorica, these 3D printed prosthetic arms are at once inspired by technology and nature: one is all flashing lights and crisp-white futurism; another looks like it belongs in a ballet. But the incredible prostheses are more than just individual items for a one-off event; they are part of a growing trend for ultra-customizable 3D printed prostheses that are designed to suit the specific wearer in every way. At $1,700+, these aren’t the most affordable printed prostheses out there, but they are certainly some of the most spectacular.

Replyanski and Motorica presented two of their 3D printed prostheses at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The first, worn by model Konstantin, is a functional, cyborg-inspired prosthesis ($2,500) that incorporates LED lights and—incredibly—a MIDI synthesizer! The arm is therefore a practical assistive device, a bold fashion statement, and a musical instrument in one. Another 3D printed arm was worn by Aymana, whose butterfly-inspired prosthesis ($1,700) features detachable wings and a matching headpiece.

“I want people with differences to have the opportunity to show their individuality,” Replyanskiy said of his spectacular creations. “I think their differences may be not a disadvantage, but an additional opportunity for that. The prosthesis can be a stylish accessory, like for Aymana, or a unique gadget like for Konstantin, and be as much a part of an individual style as fashionable shoes or a hat.”

Before making the 3D printed prostheses, Replyanskiy first consulted with the people who would be wearing the devices, getting a feel for their fashion preferences and physical measurements. Then, as soon as designer and wearer had agreed on a concept, Replyanski created a 3D model in Autodesk Fusion 360, an application he has been using for around three years.

“In short, the main feature of Fusion 360 for me is the key link between the three types of modeling: solid, surface, and polygonal,” Replyanskiy explained. “In other words, it allows you to easily make really complex objects, preserving the accuracy and functionality of 3D models ready for real production.”

Since Autodesk gives Fusion 360 away for free to startups like Motorica, making the designs was relatively simple. When the 3D models were complete, they were 3D printed by local printing service Can-Touch, with some particular parts, such as the fingertips, made using silicone molds. Once everything was assembled, the pieces were ready to be worn.

“I used my experience of polygonal modeling to create functional models, not limiting myself to simple forms,” Replyanskiy added. “Thus, in a short time (3 weeks, including printing, assembly, installation of electronics, and manual work on the accessory part), I was able to create a full-fledged unique mechanical prosthesis of two types of hands in a team with an engineer.”

3D printed fashion looks like it will continue to grow at pace, but the addition of stylish 3D printed prostheses could open up a whole new range of creative possibilities.

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