Feb 23, 2018 | By Benedict

In Missouri, a teenager has 3D printed a custom prosthetic arm for his veteran amputee father, while across the pond in the UK, a father has 3D printed a prosthesis for his 10-year-old son, who was born without a left hand. It’s a lovely snapshot of 3D printing in 2018.

3D printing does great things in a lot of areas, but one of the most directly beneficial uses for the technology is prosthetics. All around the world, organizations like e-NABLE and Open Bionics are dramatically cutting the cost of prosthetic limbs for those in need, while individual makers are also designing and 3D printing their own prostheses using homemade designs or models sourced from the internet.

This week, there are feelgood 3D printing stories from both sides of the Atlantic, both of which involved a parental bond between father and son.

In St Louis, Missouri, teenager Robbie Freis used his 3D printing skills to fabricate a new arm for his father, a veteran who was injured in a 2003 RPG attack in Iraq. It was a touching endeavor, though Freis did have one ulterior motive for his project: getting his dad back on the video games!

Robbie Freis 3D printed an arm for his amputee father

(Image: KTVI/CNN)

“When my dad was injured in the Marines, he wasn't able to play video games with us for about 10 years,” Freis said. “And after I created that 3D printed adapter, he was able to play with us full speed.”

Freis used a 3D scanner to capture a 3D model of his father’s left hand, before flipping the model to make a perfectly fitting prosthetic right hand. The teenager, who wants to go into robotics in college, used his school’s 3D printer to fabricate the prosthesis.

The arm was 3D printed on a machine at Freis' school

(Image: KTVI/CNN)

But father-son acts of kindness can also go the other way. Over in England, 51-year-old Callum Miller has made a 3D printed arm for his 10-year-old son, Jamie.

Callum had been researching prosthesis options on the internet when he came upon the idea of 3D printing an arm for Jamie. To this end, he contacted 3D printing charity Team UnLimbited to see if they could print him one. (We wrote about the 3D printed prosthesis charity and its efforts to provide free printed limbs last year.)

Unfortunately, Team UnLimbited’s waiting list for physical 3D printed models meant there was an 18-month delay on orders. So Callum thought: why don’t I just get a 3D printer myself?

With an eBay-bought Chinese 3D printer in hand, the father downloaded a 3D model from the charity and 3D printed it himself.

With no prior 3D printing experience, Callum Miller printed an arm for his son Jamie

(Images: Mercury Press & Media)

And funnily enough, the Millers also had computer games in mind: “Other people can be a bit cautious about it but he can still do everything,” Callum said of Jamie’s disability in the Daily Mirror. “He plays the PS4 better than most people with two hands.”

And now, with an extra 3D printed hand to help him out, it looks like Jamie will be unstoppable.

“I think my new hand is really cool and I like using it a lot,” the 10-year-old said. “I feel like a bit of a superhero. I can catch a ball, hold stuff, and play games with it now.”

It might not be the last Jamie sees of a 3D printer, either: “In the future I would like to learn how to make them like my dad so I can help other people who need them.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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