3D Printers Give Boy The Hand He Never Had

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Technology improves lives - we hear it everyday as large companies continue to force feed us the latest technological toys. Sure, these things make our lives more convenient, but does technology really improve lives? It's a resounding yes for a little boy from South Africa.

3ders has an excellent story up about a man named Richard and a boy named Liam. Both face the challenge of getting through life without a hand. For Richard, he lost most of his fingers in a woodworking accident. For Liam, he was born with Ambiotic Band Syndrome which means he has no fingers on his right hand. For both, some 3D printing ingenuity is helping to change their lives for the better.

Richard and a designer from Washington named Ivan both worked on the design of the first "robohand." Check out the initial design process and Liam using the hand for the first time below:

Here's Liam a month later performing more complicated functions with the hand:

After this, Richard and Ivan got in contact with MakerBot to inquire about 3D printing. The company sent two MarkerBot Replicator 2s, free of charge, to both Richard and Ivan so they could continue refining the design of the "robohand" without having to be physically near each other. The results are pretty amazing:

As the two men make progress with the "robohand," they are also hoping to help others with similar handicaps overcome them with cheap, effective solutions via 3D printing. To that end, the design of the robohand has been made open source so anybody can benefit from it. You can check out the design on Thingiverse here.

As for the project itself, you can continue to follow it at the designers' Web site. You can also help contribute to the project with a donation. They're hoping to raise $50,000 over the next year to help "create prosthetic fingers for whoever wants one."

Liam's story is another great example of how 3D printing and related technologies are helping to better peoples' lives without the major investment required by modern medical technology. As 3D printers become more affordable, expect to see more heartwarming stories like this pop up.

[Image: Coming Up Short Handed]

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