Cool Sci-Fi Future Is Nigh: Dad Builds Son 3-D Printed Prosthetic Hand for $10

$30,000 in medical fees
 for a traditional prosthetic hand,
videographer Paul McCarthy built a multi-colored “Robohand” for his
twelve-year-old son using a friend’s 3-D printer. McCarthy says he
spent, “Five, maybe, ten bucks.”

The boy, 12-year-old Leon
McCarthy, was born without fingers on his left hand. Once he turned
ten, Paul started searching for an inexpensive and functional
prosthetic alternative.

What he found changed his son’s life. A YouTube
 by Washington-based special effects artist and
puppeteer, Ivan Owen, shows the results of the artist’s
collaborative effort to build a Robohand for a disabled boy in
South Africa. Like McCarthy, Owen was not an engineer, computer
scientist, or doctor. However, he was passionate about helping to
develop affordable, DIY prosthetics. In an interview with CBS News,
Owen said:

I’ve always had this vision of people being able to build their
own prosthetic device at home.

To help him accomplish this goal, MakerBot, a firm that produces
3-D printing equipment, offered Owen and his South African design
partner, Richard Van As, free printers. From there, Owen and Van As
honed the Robohand and posted the design and
for free download on Thingiverse, a website for
sharing digital designs.

According to
, once the McCarthy’s discovered Owens’ video and the
Robohand instructions, they decided to make one for Leon:

Printing the parts (using a friend’s borrowed 3-D printer) was
easy, the two say. But it took them a month to figure out how to
string, screw and bolt together what they describe as the
“Frankenstein” version. It’s still a work in progress, they say,
but several weeks ago, Leon wore it to school for a tryout.

“I’m able to hold a pencil and piece of paper,” Leon says. “I’ve
done a lot more than I ever thought I could, so it’s opened up a
lot of new doors in my life.”

Van As is now raising money
through a crowdfunding site to build more Robohands for disabled
children at no cost to their families. In the meantime, the
latest version of
is available for free download – and the materials
cost just $5.

While many are lauding these developments as an awesome way to
revolutionize healthcare and DIY projects, some are concerned that
lobbyists and politicians may try to stop their proliferation. In


Because a 3D printer can make perfect replicas of many kinds of
object, manufacturers may seek to brand it a “piracy machine” and
demand additional measures to protect their traditional way of
doing business. Mr Weinberg worries that they may behave rather
like the record industry did when its own business model—based on
selling pricey CD albums that few music fans wanted, instead of
cheap single tracks they craved—came under attack from Napster and
other file-swapping networks.


from Hit & Run

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