Nov 25, 2015 | By Andre

Throughout my time exploring, working with, and speaking on 3D printing technologies, the practical benefits of the technology comes up over and over again in discussion.

Sure, there are 3D printed phone cases, cool little gizmos and plastic knick-knacks, but so many of these items could be purchased cheaply and at higher quality elsewhere. This is because the incredible efficiency seen in the time-tested, traditional methods of manufacturing.

But 3D Printing has never been about producing the most for the cheapest. It has always been about customization at newly affordable costs to provide unique solutions never possible before.

The production of hyper personalized prosthetics available to a 3D printer is something I always bring up when the knick-knack, “practical” item discussion appears in conversation.

It's these solutions that provide benefits that can drastically change lives at a cost that was never possible just a few years ago.

A Makerspace at the International School of Aruba has just proven this once again with the heartfelt story of Zizi, a young girl who was missing fingers on her right hand.

Pieter Verduijn, the teacher that first heard of Zizi wrote, “Aruba isn’t a poor country like other Caribbean countries, but that is mainly because of the tourists. A bigger group of people are still living in poverty and having access to prosthetics is an impossible dream…Until now.

In short-time, Pieter reached out to the teacher that first reported on Zizi’s condition and said he and his students would be able to produce a 3D printed prosthetic using a Makerbot Replicator 2 and deliver it once completed.

With several prosthetic design files readily available for free on the e-NABLE hand device site, the team decided a well-reviewed and documented Raptor hand was their best bet. Pieter and his students started the process to use 3D printing to help Zizi out soon thereafter.

After a few hiccups along the way (Pieter mentioned a very clogged extruder the kids fixed themselves) the hand was quickly completed and delivered as promised.

Her reactions to the delivery and of the 3D printed hand speak volumes and touch on the impact low-cost 3D printing can have to those in need around the world today.

Heartwarming stories like this, like so many 3D printing projects, tend to be the beginning of greater things to come.

Pieter has said, “The kids I am working with are around 14 years old and in the 9th grade. They have put their whole progress on their facebook page, which is awesome! Their next step is to start a foundation so that the money raised can be used for the foundation only and it will be held at our school and led by the children. They will be taught compassion, leadership and organization. It serves many good causes but the most important of these is enabling people by giving them hands.

A combination of low-cost 3D printing, e-NABLE based prosthetic designs and the dedication to a group of enthusiastic 9th graders has made this all possible.

To add another element of success to this story, the group of students behind the project very recently were awarded the Appel Di Oro award for the best project of the year by the International School of Aruba.


There’s no doubt that 3D Printing can most certainly change lives for the better and this is another clear example of how this is happening in the world we live in today. It is a technology that is less about creating millions of little knick-knacks that are easily mass-produced but instead one that can make a huge difference to any one individual. This story proves this once again.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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