Two makers on opposite ends of the globe, Ivan Owen in Bellingham, Washington and Richard Van As in South Africa, teamed up to build a custom robotic hand and publish it on Thingiverse. The best part? They built it for Liam, a five-year-old South African boy who was born without fingers on his right hand, by collaborating online between continents.
The pair met when Van As discovered Owen’s hand-made prosthetic prop hand he built for a convention. Van As lost four fingers in an accident and asked Owen for advice and help to build his own prosthesis. The pair began working remotely, with Van As sending casts of his hand to Owen who built models at home. Soon, Van As began working on a Robohand for Liam and the pair met to collaborate on a full prosthetic hand for the boy.
Folks at Makerbot heard about the project and donated two Replicator 2 3D printers to the pair who were then able to create parts by sending CAD files back and forth. In a few days, Liam had a prototype hand and the pair continued to refine and improve the model.
Last month Liam received his improved hand and has been using it to pick up small objects – something he was unable to do previously.
Just 3 days after receiving his finished Robohand… Liam is off and learning to use it like a champion! A little guy who couldn’t grasp anything with his right hand can now even pick up an object as small and difficult as a coin!! Imagine how many other little folks are out there who could benefit from this technology!
The pair of designers are now raising funds to help other people who have lost fingers and cannot pay the $1,000 and up necessary to have “real” prostheses made. It’s a stirring testimony to the power of 3D printing and the energy of two men on a mission to make a little boy’s world a little brighter.