Engineering students build a six-year-old Florida boy an arm with a 3D printer. The family of Alex Pring has been struggling to find a way to afford a prosthetic limb for the child who was born with a partial right arm. Their struggle ended with Albert Manero and his team of students from the University of Central Florida. Manero and his team built the prototype in only seven weeks and published the blueprints online.
Manero learned of Alex when his mother posted a letter to an online community which is committed to making prosthetic hands. Alyson, the boy’s mother, said in the letter that her son was born without an arm and their insurance would not cover the cost of a prosthetic one. Prosthetics can range as high as $40,000 and the family’s plan with Groveland Family Insurance Company was not sufficient.
The online network which connected Manero with Alyson is called e-Nable. This network is made up of volunteer 3-D enthusiasts who are interested in helping kids without hands. Manero joined the group because of a childhood friend who is missing fingers.
Manero, who led the team, is working on his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. He said he got the idea to build the child’s arm after hearing a story about a man in South Africa who used a 3D printer to make a new one. Manero said he was really inspired and when he got back he spoke to his friends and colleagues and told them, “We can do this.”
His team joined the vision and together they built a prosthetic arm which can run off one battery charge for an entire day. As opposed to the high price of prosthetics, Manero’s team built Alex an arm for just $350. The price was so much cheaper than other prostheses because new parts can be printed for $40 to $50 for a new forearm and as low as $20 for a new hand. With these rates the child’s family will not have to struggle with cost for another artificial limb once Alex outgrows his current one.
Manero put the plans of the design online so that other engineers can download them for free and advance them from improvements. He said the team hopes people will build on what they have done in order to make it much better.
I have no doubt that the international community will try to move this technology forward and lower the cost.
Alex was so excited when he received the prosthetic arm. The young boy said he felt good and could feel everything good with his robot arm. Alex, who did not know what to expect, said the arm was not heavy at all. After being born with a partial right arm the six-year-old is ready to start his new journey with a brand new arm.
The look on Alex’s face when he used his new arm for the first time was priceless, said Manero. His mother taught him and his siblings that they are here to help change the world and make it better. That is exactly what Manero said he hopes to do.
A young boy who longed to participate in activities that most children take for granted such as climbing a tree or catching a ball, hugs his mom with both arms for the first time in his life. Thank to engineering students from the University of Central Florida Alex gets a new lease on life with a prosthetic arm which allows him to open and close the hand through muscle movement.
A new arm was built for a six-year-old Florida boy with a 3D printer. Alex Pring’s family had struggled to find a way to afford a prosthetic limb for the child who was born with a partial right arm. Albert Manero read a letter by the boy’s mother and was inspired to answer the call.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)