US$50 3D-printed ‘robohand’ gives 7-year-old girl new lease of life

2 Apr 2015

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Showing the prospect of a 3D-printed future, seven-year-old Faith Lennox who was born without the use of her left arm has designed a prosthetic arm for herself with parts that cost only US$50.

Having been born with a condition known as compartment syndrome that had cut the blood flow to her left arm before birth, Faith had attempted to wear a number of different more-traditional prosthetics that could cost in the thousands of dollars range.

However, after discovering that the non-profit group E-Nable, who offer 3D printed arms to children, had a long waiting list, Faith’s mother came across the Build It Workshop that was being held where they were living which teaches children how to use technology to turn their deisng dreams into a reality, according to Phys.org.

In Faith’s case, she teamed up with Mark Muller, a prosthetics professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills who worked with her on developing a hand that would weigh less than a kilogram, but without the expensive sensors that come with most current prosthetics.

Her design is much simpler however allowing her to flex her hand open and closed which allows her to do some of her favourite activities including riding her bike.

Showing off her new skills at a press conference, Faith was even able to, in a rather meta moment, use her new arm to draw a picture of her new arm.

Of course, given the passing of time, Faith will outgrow her new arm within a year, but her design can be replicated in a larger scale for almost exactly the same cost.

Unsurprisingly, Faith was rather shy when the cameras arrive for the press conference, but did manage to say about her new arm, "It's really cool!"

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com