Dec 29, 2014 | By Simon

While we've seen a range of 3D printed prosthetics ranging from the more basic to those that involve a much more advanced fitting and customization process, we've been yet to see a low-cost option that is not only easy to replicate, but can also be customized for a superhero fan.

The superhero fan in question is five-year old Charlie Egan of Suffolk, UK who was born without a right arm below the elbow. Thanks to Baltimore, Maryland-based E-nable -- a network of volunteer engineers and designers who create 3D printed prosthetics -- Charlie was not only able to unwrap presents with both hands on Christmas morning this year, he was also able to help decorate the tree, too.

Designed and printed in the iconic red and blue colors that Superman wears, the 3D printed prosthetic also features a web motif and is customized based off of a plaster mold that Charlie's parents sent to E-Nable for them to use in the process of their design development. Using velcro to attach the arm to Charlie's body, the fingers are able to move based on Charlie's elbow movements.

Although Charlie is extremely appreciative of the new arm, he has gone the majority of his life without the desire to wear a prosthetic at all.

"He never used his prosthetic arm that he had when he was a baby, and he managed fine without it. He learnt to crawl and walk just like any other baby, to him it was just like a dolly's arm," said Charlie's mom.

"When he was a baby he just played with his plastic arm just like he would do a toy, then as he grew into a toddler he ignored it. He never needed anything else, he just adapted to doing things without any proper hands. He managed wonderfully well. He could feed himself and climb to the top of a climbing frame with all his friends. He can even play computer games and controls the small buttons with the end of his arm."

After discovering E-Nable, she sent the volunteers measurements and pictures of Charlie's arm. After they had finished designing the prosthetic, the E-Nable team directed her to somebody with a 3D printer in London who was able to print the arm for her and then have it fitted on Charlie.

She added:
"Charlie has always managed really well, but now he can feel more like the other children now that he's got his new hand."


Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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wise owl wrote at 12/30/2014 12:31:50 AM:

I am personally acquainted with one of the e-Nable volunteers who did te actual 3D fabrication and mechanical setup of the 3-D printed hand, made for a boy, Charlie Egan, and described in your article "E-Nable designs young UK child a new superhero-inspired 3D printed arm", Dec 29, 2014 | By Simon". I am indignant that the author or editor did not ensure that the volunteers involved were not given credit for this work by being named. They donate time, extraordinary skill and expensive materials for the good of less fortunate people. It is a editor's job to ensure that credit is given where due whatever the space limitations may be.

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