Fay, Tim and family
How one grumpy lump brought us myReflection Prostheses
myReflection director Tim Carr first embarked on developing a 3D printed breast prosthesis when his partner Fay Cobbett was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Fay found herself frustrated with uncomfortable generic silicone bra inserts. Hugs left lumpy hard rocks pressing into the recipient and the silicone prosthesis would shift and look unrealistic to her.
Fay missed her old sense of self.
Tim believed he could use his knowledge of 3D print to make something for her that would be comfortable, mould into her post-mastectomy chest wall and replicate her previous shape. Thus avoiding the need for more surgery. He teamed up with 3D print expert Jason Barnett and the pair started developing the prosthesis.
Jason’s tenacity and wide knowledge proved essential to the challenge and he tested iteration after iteration until they had something that was affordable but also highly functional and vastly better than what had come before.
The concept spent one year in research and development which was fast-tracked in September 2018 when friends at Weta Workshop opened their doors to the pair, offering access to their material science knowledge.
It was not straight road to success, equipment and new methods needed to be designed and tested to handle the complicated processes. The pair believe these technologies have never been combined in this way.
Then a considerable chunk of the time was spent making the prosthesis affordable. “I didn’t see the point of making it an elitist option that only a few could afford” said myReflection director Tim Carr. “The whole point was to help women, so that meant we needed to find way to get the production cost down so it could be covered by the government breast prosthesis service payment subsidy.”
New Zealand citizens who have had a mastectomy are provided a four yearly subsidy to cover the costs of prosthesis and custom bras.
The finished product is impressive. The prosthesis is crafted from a light, flexible inner core which is coated in a hard-wearing, breathable, ISO certified silicone outer with a method that seems to defy physics.
For the end user it is extremely comfortable, breathable and because they are custom fitted to each woman’s unique shape, they are less prone to dislodgement or gaping.
The difference is in the core of the prosthesis which is extremely flexible, doesn’t get harder when compressed, and is light. Along with utilising 3D mapping technology to customise each prosthesis to the perfectly fit the wearer.
Women opting for a myReflections breast prosthesis will need to be scanned to create a 3D map of their torso, ideally prior to mastectomy surgery.
For women who have already undergone mastectomy, the remaining breast can be scanned and mirrored to create a match.
The chest wall also needs to be scanned to create the back of the prosthesis which moulds into the woman’s chest and wraps around their torso, locking it in place.
Scanning is a photographic process where hundreds of images are compiled to create a 3D map. From this map the prosthesis can be created.
February 7th 2019 is the official launch of myReflections. “It has been such a personal journey for us.” said Tim. ‘We are really excited to be able to share this product with other women who are going through or have been through what we have. If we can improve the quality of life of women who have been through the hell of breast cancer and help to restore their self image, then it is all worth it.”
“It doesn’t move, it doesn’t hurt, it is now a part of me and I am not even aware of it being there.” “I look like I did before, and the best part is that it can change with me, as I age I can be rescanned and it can be remade to match my changed shape so I will still be symmetrical.” - Fay Cobbett - the reason this prosthesis exists.