For children, prosthetic
limbs don’t come cheap since
they are easily outgrown.
That’s why six year old Alex
Pring was so happy when an
engineering student and his
friends found a way to 3D
print a new right arm for him
earlier this year.
Alex’s new limb only
cost $350 to build, compared
with up to $40,000 for
similar prostheses currently
on the market. When he gets
too big for it, new parts can
be printed on the cheap –
only $20 for a new hand,
and around $40 to $50 for a
Student Albert Manero
— currently getting his Ph.D.
in aerospace engineering at
the University of Central Florida — got the idea
while driving in his car. He heard the story
about the man in South Africa who used a
3D printer to make a new hand.
“I was really inspired,” Manero told Keith
Wagstaff at NBC News. “When I got back, I
talked to my colleagues and friends, and said,
‘We can do this.’”
Manero already belongs to e-NABLE — the
online community that collaborates to make
prosthetic hands — which he joined because
he grew up with a friend who was missing
fingers. That is where Alex's mother, Alyson
Pring of Groveland, FL, first got in touch
She told him about how Alex had been born without a right arm. That
kicked off a seven-week quest to make a prototype using off-the-shelf servo
motors and batteries and custom 3D printed parts.
With this technology, Manero figured out how to build an arm that could
sense movements in Alex’s bicep, letting the boy grip and pick up objects. Unlike
many 3D printed prostheses, this one works with arms that lack a working elbow
and its battery has enough juice to run for an entire day on a single charge.
Manero put the blueprints for
his design on websites like e-NABLE
and Thingiverse (www.3duniverse
raptor-hand-by-e-nable/) so that
other parents of kids like Alex can
download them for free.
Manero also hopes that
engineers will take them and make
some tweaks. “I have no doubt that
the international community will try
to move this technology forward
and lower the cost,” he commented.
Six Year Old Gets
Best Helping Hand Ever
Photos courtesy of KTCrabb Photography.
Six year old Alex Pring talks to student Albert Manero,
who helped engineer a new prosthetic limb
and hand for the child.
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