An enterprising 16-year-old in Kansas recently 3D-printed at prosthetic hand for his nine-year-old family friend, giving the young tyke the use of fingers for the first time in his life. And he did it all at the local county library.
Mason Wilde, the teenager with the 3D printing skills, first became interested in making the prosthetic after young Matthew, who has only partial digits on his right hand, saw a picture of the "Robohand" online. The prosthetic, originally co-designed by puppet artist Ivan Owen and South African woodworker Richard Van As, had recently been posted to Thingiverse, a collection of downloadable 3D-printed designs.
It was just what Matthew needed, but his mother had no idea how they might actually be able to make one. The family had long since given up hopes of purchasing a commercial prosthetic hand, which can cost upwards of $US18,000, even with insurance. Nowing that Wilde was computer-savvy, she contacted him to see if he might help.
Sure enough, the 11th-grader crunched some numbers and tweaked the design. And after an eight-hour 3D-printing session at the Johnson County Library, little Matthew had a new hand, and it only cost about $US60 in materials. "I was happy, happy, happy," Matthew told The Kansas City Star. "Whopping Gangnam style!" he added, doing a little dance.
This is hardly the first time a 3D printer has provided someone with an affordable prosthetic. Last year, a loving father 3D-printed a similar prosthetic hand for his son. Now that the designs are online for anybody to download and use, we can only hope this will happen more. After all, there is much promise in our cyborg-friendly future. [KC Star via Twitter]