Engineering students 3-D-print “bionic” arm for 6-year-old — for under $350

The usual cost for a prosthetic arm: $40,000 VIDEO

Topics: Video, 3d Printing, bionic arm, Florida, Engineering, technology, Science, cool culture, , ,

Engineering students 3-D-print "bionic" arm for 6-year-old -- for under $350Alex Pring's bionic arm (Credit: screenshot)

Six-year-old Alex Pring, of Groveland, Florida, reaches out for a fist-size rubber duck. Focused, his robotic milky white fingers close, and he grips the duck, raising his arm triumphantly. “I got the duck!” he shouts.

Seconds later the duck slips from his grasp and onto the table, but that hardly matters. This is a moment of victory for Alex Pring.

It is also an incredible achievement for a team of student engineers at the University of Central Florida, who built the “bionic” arm Pring used to clutch the duck — and, according to the Sun Sentinel, it cost them under $350.

Pring was born without a full right arm; he is one of 1,500 children born in the United States with missing or deformed hands and arms, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Up until now Alex Pring has been without a prosthesis. His parents’ insurance company refused to pay for a prosthetic arm, due to the high cost — $40,000 — and the fact that children grow out of their artificial limbs so quickly. His parents, Alyson and Steven Pring, were unable to afford the out-of-pocket expense.

The Prings turned to an online volunteer organization e-NABLE. By their own definition e-NABLE is “a World wide movement of tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference.” It was inspired by two makers who created a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand for a South African boy and then gave the blueprints away for free.

The organization put the Prings in contact with Albert Manero at the University of Central Florida. Manero is a Fulbright Scholar, with both his bachelor’s and master’s in aerospace engineering. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

Manero led a team of student engineers in creating a “bionic” arm for Alex Pring. Unlike other prostheses, Alex Pring’s arm cost less than $350 worth of materials. The arm took eight weeks to create, and was built using a 3-D printer, instructions downloaded from the Web, along with batteries and other mechanisms purchased online.



The design for Alex’s bionic hand, which can grasp objects, came from 21-year-old Mateo Alvarez, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering. “Alex flexes his muscle and he can use that to open and close his hand,” Alvarez explained to the Sun Sentinel.

At the six-week prosthetic trial, within minutes, Alex was able to figure out how to open and close his new digits. His next move, according to his mother Alyson, was to give her a two-armed hug.

Alex Pring received his finished arm this week. As he grows, the cost of materials for an updated model will only be around $20.

“I wanted an arm so people would stop calling my arm names,” Alex told the Sun Sentinel. “It hurts all my feelings. Everyone is born different. Everyone is special for what they do.”

Watch this video from the Sun Sentinel, provided by the University of Central Florida.

h/t Raw Story

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...