There’s no doubt 3d printing will change our world. Already, you can print out toys, clothes or a working (and lethal) gun. And soon the disabled may be able to print out new body parts.
One of the coolest 3d printing innovations is the Robohand, developed by Richard Van As and Ivan Owen. Rich is a bit of handyman. He likes to build things. But one day when using a table saw he cut off four of his fingers. As his bloody hand was being cleaned at the hospital he decided “I will make myself some fingers again.”
Doing some research, Rich found that current prosthetic hands are super expensive. Then he came across a video Ivan had posted on YouTube of a giant mechanical hand he made for a costume. Rich asked Ivan for help in creating an affordable prosthetic and Ivan thought it sounded fun. The two began collaborating from across the globe (Rich lives in South Africa and Ivan in the US). Using 3d printers both were able to print out and test their designs at home.
And now, this January they’ve had their first big success. A little boy named Liam who was born without several fingers on his right hand received a functioning Robohand, the fingers of which were all 3d printed. Not only that, the Robohand cost Liam’s family nothing. Rich and Ivan’s group is crowd funded and open source so anyone can take their designs and improve upon them.
Perhaps, that will be the biggest change to the medical world. For years everyday people have had the technology to create their own movies, computer programs and music. All of those industries have changed as a result. If people now have the technology to create their own medical devices and improve upon each other’s designs, then we’re headed toward an exciting future of more affordable and more innovative medical technology.
If you would like to donate to the Robohand project or simply watch videos of Liam trying out his new hand, please visit their fundraising page-- http://fundly.com/just-a-guy-with-an-idea-restoring-fingers.