Mar 16, 2018 | By Tess

In another heartwarming 3D printing story, a father from Barnsley in England has used additive manufacturing to create a number of prosthetic arms for his three-year-old son.

Adam Dengel, a 29-year-old father from the South Yorkshire town of Barnsley, wanted to help his young son, Tommy, lead a more normal life. Tommy, you see, was born with an underdeveloped arm and no right hand—caused by amniotic band syndrome, a condition where amniotic tissue wraps around the limbs of a fetus inside the womb, cutting off blood flow and restricting development.

And though the young boy was provided with a more traditional arm and hand prosthetic from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), his father wanted to find a better alternative for his son.

That’s where Team Unlimbited comes in. A backyard startup from Swansea, Team Unlimbited has since become one of the UK’s most well-known 3D printing prosthetics charities—providing custom 3D printed arms to children in need.

Three-year-old Tommy received his first 3D printed arm courtesy of Team Unlimbited and some of his father’s friends. Upon seeing his son’s ecstatic reaction to the colorful and functional 3D printed arm, Mr. Dengel decided to try his own hand at making the 3D printed prosthetics.

“Tommy was absolutely over the moon with it,” he said. “When I saw the smile on his face I just thought, right, this is something I need to do.”

With 3D models and instructions from Unlimbited in tow, Mr. Dengal purchased his very own 3D printer and set about 3D printing the parts for more plastic hand prosthetics.

Apparently Mr. Dengel has a knack for it, as he has successfully made six 3D printed artificial arms for his son. Each 3D printed arm, which is fitted to Tommy’s current size, can be made for only about £15 ($21) and can be assembled with commonplace materials like fishing wire, velcro, and orthodontic elastic bands.

(Images: Adam Dengel / BBC)

To function, the arm is simply strapped to the wearer using velcro in such a way that when he or she moves the upper arm, the 3D printed mechanism will trigger and the hand will grip or release.

After seeing the difference 3D printed prosthetics have made in his own son’s life, Mr. Dengel and his wife Katie have even decided to start their own charity effort to provide 3D printed limbs to families in need.

Tommy, for his part, will surely enjoy having new 3D printed arms at his disposal as he grows up.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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