May 1, 2018 | By David

An Australian man has recently made use of 3D printing technology to create an innovative new prosthetic device. Mat Bowtell has been 3D printing prosthetic fingers and hands for children for a while now, and his latest device is a unique accessory that was intended to allow children to use skipping ropes. It has also been used for a wide variety of other activities, such as fishing, playing musical instruments and even playing golf.

Bowtell was a member of the Aussie Hands Foundation Facebook group. Aussie Hands is dedicated to getting prosthetics to children who need them, whether they were born with physical differences or suffered injuries later in life. A mother on the group posted a message asking for an accessory that would allow her child to participate in the Jump Rope For Heart campaign. Bowtell responded then set to work putting together a 3D printed skipping rope adapter.

The former engineer took up 3D printing prosthetics full-time after he was made redundant, staying up after his children had gone to bed to work on his creations. He now has his own workshop with 10 3D printers, after moving from Melbourne to Philip Island for cheaper rent. He follows in a tradition of many other amateur engineers and 3D printing enthusiasts around the world who have made cheap 3D printed prosthetics for people, or even animals, in need.

Bowtell first got the idea when he was a student of engineering at Monash University. He was offered a scholarship to work in Japan, and he worked on robotics projects, including a bionic arm that was worth around $1 million. He decided to come up with a cheaper alternative, adapting the technology to help out kids. After purchasing a relatively cheap $5,000 FDM 3D printer, Bowtell spent about a year building a kinetic finger, which moved in a similar way to a real one. These fingers cost just $1 to make.

The most recent recipients of prosthetic fingers were Lilli and Kalani, two girls who were born without fingers, a condition that affects around 600 people in Australia. Bowtell travelled to the girls to deliver their prosthetics in person, as opposed to sending them through the post like he normally would. They were inspired by his kindness and ingenuity, and hope to emulate his example in future.

(credit: Mailonline)

"The kids get to be part of the design process", said Bowtell. "They get to choose the final colour of the hands so it suits their personality. It was really emotional meeting them. To see the kids with so much confidence and able to throw a ball or pick up a glass is just heartwarming."

Bowtell was able to put the first skipping rope accessory together for just $3. He has made eleven of them so far, and intends to produce another seven, in order to help out as many kids as possible. The adapter is primarily intended for using a skipping rope in physical education, but the imaginations and ambitions of children are limitless.

"Kids have been getting creative with them and have even used them for fishing and playing golf", said Bowtell. "I'm currently reconfiguring it to help a little girl hold a drumstick so she can play drums."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Mat Bowtell wrote at 5/2/2018 1:08:11 PM:

Thank you for sharing my volunteer activities. If you would like to support me in sustaining my work, please visit Thank you for your kind support. Warmest Regards, Mat Bowtell.

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