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3D printed Robohands give children a new lease on life

Posting in Healthcare


3D printing can do more than create weaponry or houses -- it can provide cheap prosthetics to those who need them most.

If you lose your fingers in an accident or are simply born without them, prosthetic alternatives often cost thousands of dollars. However, as Richard van As found, with the right tools you can create your own.

The South African carpenter lost four fingers in an accident several years ago. Instead of turning to the healthcare industry, he decided to create his own -- first through hardware store parts, and later through 3D printing.

The Robohand was manufactured through a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer. Plastic parts are far cheaper than mechanical ones, and because of this, hands have been printed for four South African children as part of a humanitarian aid initiative.

The first child to receive a Robohand was 5-year-old Liam, born without fingers on his right hand. van As and partner Ivan Owen created a hand for the child -- for free -- which is controlled by cables and bungee cords. It may not be technologically sophisticated, but the prosthetic is certainly innovative -- and if the project expands could prove to be a gift for children and adults worldwide.

van As and Owen have distributed the open-source files for others to use on Thingiverse, but now an Indiegogo campaign has been launched to take the project further. The partners are attempting to raise $10,000 in order to purchase materials including plastics, hardware and anodizing materials as well as present Robohand at Congress in the future.

At the time of writing, $6,433 has been raised.

Read More: CNET

— By on June 1, 2013, 7:19 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure