Jul 16, 2016 | By Tess

As we’ve learnt over the years, toy dolls can play a critical role in the development of young girls’ self-esteem and notably in the development of some physical insecurities. Having a doll that young girls can identify with and see themselves in has proven to be incredibly important, and fortunately some companies and individuals have made it their mission to diversify and broaden the toy doll market. One such effort has been put forward by the Ruiz Brothers, a prolific maker team on Adafruit who have created designs for 3D printed doll prosthetics that anyone can make at home.

In conceiving of the project, the maker team was inspired by a Facebook video that went viral last month of a young Texan girl receiving a doll with a prosthetic leg. If you haven’t already seen the video, which in just a month has received over 36 million views, I suggest you check it out (below). In the video, a young girl named Emma, who has a prosthetic leg herself, is gifted with an American Girl doll that has a matching artificial limb. Upon realizing the doll is just like her, Emma begins to cry of happiness, clutching to her new doll.

Emma’s prosthetic limb doll, which was made by A Step Ahead Prosthetics, inspired the Ruiz Brothers to create their own 3D printable prosthetic doll limbs that anyone could make. As the makers state in a video about their open-source product, “[Emma’s story] inspired us to use 3D printing and CAD software to show people how to DIY their own prosthetics for their dolls.”

So, if you have a child with a artificial limb or any sort of prosthetic and want them to have a doll that reflects their reality, all you’ll need for your DIY prosthetic doll is an American Girl Doll, access to a 3D printer, and some simple tools.

If you’re wondering whether you’ll have to chop the limbs off your child’s favorite toy, fortunately the answer is no, as the Ruiz Brothers designed the 3D printed limbs to completely replace the doll’s original pieces. Additionally, the limbs were designed using Autodesk Fusion 360, so modifying and adapting the designs can be done with relative ease to match your child’s prosthetic limb.

To modify the American Girl doll you’ll first need to 3D print the prosthetic limbs, whether on your own desktop 3D printer or through a 3D printing service. The limbs have been designed to match the sockets of the original American Girl doll so attaching them should be do-able with relative ease. To attach the limb (or limbs) you’ll first have to remove the doll’s head by untying the neck string. Then, by removing as much stuffing as necessary, you can remove the original doll limbs by simply untying the strings that hold them in place (this can be done with the help of pliers).

Next, to attach the 3D printed limbs, you’ll need either a 7 inch long piece of NinjaFlex filament or elastic string and a flexible 3D printed inner socket piece. Thread the filament or elastic through the inner socket and secure it on one side with a knot. You should then be able to fit the socket into the prosthetic limb.

To attach the limb to the body, you’ll simply have to align the body’s inner socket and feed the leg or arm cord through it, again securing it with a knot as close to the socket as possible. Make sure that the limbs are taut, so that when moved they can keep their place. Once the limbs are tightly in place, you can re-stuff the body and attach the head back on to have your very own prosthetic limb doll.

For those interested in making their own modified American Girl doll, all the 3D printing files necessary are available for free through the Ruiz Brothers’ Adafruit page. The makers also encourage users (and even children) to get creative with the 3D models and make them their own.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Debbie Johnson wrote at 7/23/2016 3:44:17 AM:

My granddaughter is blind and autistic. She's six years old and her name is Ava. She is so special and loved. Is there a way she could have a doll made that wears glasses and uses a white cane for the blind? I'm disabled myself and haven't got a lot of funds but I need to know if this is even possible. Thank you for your consideration. Please write back. Debbiejohnson92064@gmail.com

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