As 3D printing becomes more accessible to the masses, the technology is being widely used to benefit people from impoverished communities and remote regions around the globe.
One way that 3D printers are helping to improve lives is through the production of low-cost and custom-fit prosthetic devices. For instance, organizations like e-NABLE have given makers the ability to 3D print their own prosthetic hands right at home.
Guillermo Martinez, a 24-year-old industrial engineer from Madrid, has fully immersed himself into the world of 3D printed prosthetics.
His journey first started in 2017 with a budget 3D printer that he purchased for less than $200, which he learned how to use by watching YouTube videos about building robots and other functional devices.
Today, Martinez is in charge of the company Ayúdame3D, an initiative that strives to deliver 3D printed prosthetic arms to people living in impoverished countries across the world. His organization has already helped give 50 prosthetic limbs to people in need.
The decision to shift from robotics to 3D printed prosthetic limbs came when Martinez found a prototype of a one-hand prosthesis online, and immediately became amused with what he could do with the device. In a recent interview with Business Insider, the industrial engineer explained how this fun project turned into a full-fledged organization that has already helped dozens of people across the world.
“I started making many 3D-printed hand prostheses for fun, then I thought to myself, ‘what if this can actually help someone?’ I had already prepared my trip to Kenya and I contacted the NGO Bamba Project, as well as one of the orphanages that operates in Kenya. I didn’t think I was going to find anyone,” he said.
After reaching out to the NGO Bamba Project, the Spanish engineer soon realized that affordable prosthetics were in extremely high-demand across Kenya. The next day, he received a handful of messages from people throughout the African country, ultimately inspiring him to launch his company.
“I went there, tested out the prostheses, and saw that people were getting to grips with it quickly after using it. It felt great. I considered stopping there, but I loved the feeling of being able to help others so much that I decided to start Ayúdame3D,” Martinez added.
According to World Bank statistics, around 36-percent of Kenyans are living below the poverty line, while overall resources in the country are highly limited.
Traditional prosthetics usually cost thousands of dollar to produce, but Martinez’s initiative is able to produce their own 3D printed devices for just $50 each. The prosthetic limbs weigh 10 kilograms and are fully collapsible, allowing the user to grasp and hold objects.
Like many other 3D printed prosthetics, Ayúdame3D is manufacturing their artificial limbs out of plastic, using high-tension wires and rubber bands to create prehensile movement in the fingers of the prosthetic when the wearer’s natural joint is rotated. Best of all, the people from these impoverished regions are receiving their 3D printed prosthetic limb free of charge. To make this possible, Martinez has been asking for donations and inviting others to collaborate with his initiative.
In the near future, Martinez is hoping to launch a global production network to increase output and keep manufacturing costs as low as possible. This would allow him to quickly deliver prosthetic devices throughout the world at a fraction of the price.
Aside from his work with Ayúdame3D, the industrial engineer is also working on a project that will teach train children to use new technologies like 3D printing.
Source: Business Insider
License: The text of "24-Year-Old Engineer is 3D Printing Prosthetics for People in Poor Countries" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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