3D Printing Prosthetics

Next up in our rapid prototyping series: a heartwarming tale of two children on opposite sides of the earth benefiting from FDM in a real personal way.  This NPR story speaks of 12-year-old Leon McCarthy from our own town of Marblehead, MA, and 5-year-old Liam Dippenaar of South Africa using mechanical hands created by parts made on Makerbots.  They were each born without fingers on one hand and this device allows them to grip and release mechanical fingers by articulating their wrist.  The design for the device was developed jointly by Richard Van As of South Africa, who lost some fingers in an accident, and Ivan Owen, a puppeteer from Washington. Not only did 3D printing technology make their work faster and easier, but it made their collaboration from across the globe that much more seamless.  The design has gone through several iterations and the models are available for free download online, which means anyone with a 3D printer can scale it to fit their growing needs and build their own prosthetic for a tiny fraction of of a traditional one.


Lean McCarthy with his Robohand

Leon McCarthy with his Robohand

Here’s a video of little Liam: