Downloadable 3D printed birth control?

bearina IUDWhat’s that you say? Free birth control you can download? Well, it’s not exactly free, but the cost is just one copper penny. And no, I’m not talking about one cent ABS (ouch) or PLA (uh, biodegradable) condoms. We’re talking about 3D printing an intrauterine device (IUD).

Before anyone cancels their doctor’s appointment where they were about to pay $400-850 for an official IUD, you need to know that while the IUD we’re bringing to your attention is readily downloadable and 3D printable, it’s really only a concept, one that Israeli-born, Berlin-based designer Ronen Kadushin calls a political product.

He says his Bearina IUD “demonstrates the disruptive potential of 3D printed Open Designs to give free and global access to essential products, and circumvent industries (such as the Pharma industry) that aggressively defend their intellectual property to control the price and availability of their products.” As an Open Design he’s hoping that the IUD will be improved upon and experimented with by a networked community, or in a partnership with a forward-looking medical device company, with the goal of evolving into a functional product.

The device has been designed to be visually-friendly to appeal to young women, while using dimensions, materials and shapes commonly found in IUDs. It’s a simple device: you print it, snap a copper penny into the center, attach a nylon string and insert it. The exterior of the penny is made of copper, and its dissolving ions act as a spermicidal agent,

bearina IUD insertion

You’ve heard the phrase, “don’t try this at home.” This really applies to this (as far as we know) untested product. Here are the designer’s exact words from his website: “ It is a conceptual product, a design fiction, and absolutely should not be used as an IUD.” Please heed his words, you don’t want to risk pregnancy or hurt yourself.

You can download the Bearina IUD open source design from Kadushin’s website, or you can order a 3D printed version via his Shapeways store for only $1.25 each.

This concept has disruption written all over it.

h/t: Ponoko

  • Justin Ballen

    Pennies aren’t exactly sterile.

    • Good point!

    • somereason

      so STERILIZE IT

  • William McReynolds

    Pennies which have been subjected to boiling water are sterile. Treat them with a mix of citric acid and water after that, and they are not only sterile, but pretty and shiney.

    US pennies made before 1982 are mostly copper, with some zinc added. I am no expert on medical uses of copper and copper/zinc alloys, so I don’t know what effect this would have. After 1982, US pennies are mostly zinc, with a coating of copper on the surface.

    This totally exhausts my knowledge of the use of pennies for birth control.

  • Heather McClellan

    I know they gave a thousand caveats to not actually use this, but to add:
    You MUST use a monofilament (a la fishing line) with IUDs, not a twisted or woven string.

  • Maria

    What a completely ridicolous idea by obviusly someone who hasn’t got any clue about the female anatomy. There is no way a penny would fit through the cervix in its normal state – and the conditions under the insertion have to be absolutely sterile, otherwise infections and in worst case infertility or even death can follow.