Makerbot has released an inspiring video about how a group of hackers built 3D-printed hands for children and adults who are missing fingers or entire hands. The project aims to take the cost and complexity associated with hand prosthesis out of the process. It is working.
The blog post is here but, in short, the Robohand project is an effort to release the plans for a completely open-source, 3D-printable hand. The fingers close when the user bends his or her wrist and the parts can be printed on any 3D printer. It’s perfect for kids because, as they grow, caregivers can simply upgrade the hand with a few mouse clicks.
“We scale it up and print him another one,” said Richard Van As, a carpenter who lost four fingers in an on-the-job accident. Van As, who lives in Johannesburg, learned of the Makerbot when he teamed up with prop designer Ivan Owen. Owen and Van As collaborated on the project over the past year and have helped folks with amputated or missing digits get the proper prostheses.
You can donate to the project here or just enjoy the video. I would equate this project to the effort to give out glasses to children in the developing world. The fact that two Internet buddies solved the problem of hand prosthetics in their spare time, however, is amazing and inspiring.