3D printers are definitely cool.
Want proof? Well, when Paul McCarthy was looking for an inexpensive but functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon, he discovered that he could either pay thousands of dollars for a factory-made prosthetic hand or he could print one on his 3D printer at a fraction of the cost (the price tab for the printer was around $2000, and the materials cost about $120).
Needless to say, McCarthy chose the latter. As he says in this video, “Making your kids happy is like the most important thing you can have as a dad.”
Leon, from Marblehead, Mass., is now 12, but was born without fingers on his left hand. His dad, a videographer, spent two years searching for a way to give his son a prosthetic hand. He was ready to give up on finding an affordable solution, when he discovered an online video detailing the work of Ivan Owen, who used a 3D printer to create a prosthetic hand for a 5-year-old in 2011.
Owen had posted the design and instructions for his invention, which he named Robohand, on Thingiverse, a website for sharing digital designs.
Excited by this discovery, McCarthy followed Owen’s example and used a 3D printer purchased for his son’s school to begin working on the hand with his son.
Now McCarthy will keep working on other projects. He told Fox News that he plans on working with Leon’s school to teach students how to print hands and give them to other kids who need them.
3D printing has been around for decades, but has only caught the public eye over the last few years as the technology has become cheaper and more refined.
Printing in 3D may seem bizarre, but it is simply a way to create physical objects out of digital plans. It’s not that different from clicking on the print button on a computer screen in order to send a digital file to an inkjet printer. But instead of ink, there’s a material that is deposited in successive, thin layers until a solid object emerges.
Earlier this year I wrote about an example of the downsides of 3D printing: Imagine downloading the blueprint of a gun to your computer, creating it on a three-dimensional printer and actually firing it shortly afterwards. This is not in the realm of fantasy. There are many of these guns already in existence.
But there are upsides, too. As Care2′s Kristina Chew reported, the technology could be used to create eyeglass frames, replacement organs, medicine, tractor parts and, of course, artificial limbs.
Wow! Technology being put to use in a very cool way!
Photo Credit: CBS online news