There are many wonders associated with 3D printing, but the resourcefulness, creativity, and sheer goodness of what we have seen happening in the realm of 3D printed prosthetics is both powerful and inspiring. I have written countless stories now regarding children, many in developing countries, receiving 3D printed arms and hands. Still, each time, the magnitude of generosity on the volunteer’s part and joy on the recipient’s part brings a tear to my eye. As does hearing about the latest project that occurred on a massive level.
While it may appear as if a large volume of 3D printed prosthetics have already been given to people, when considering around two million humans are without limbs in the US alone, with tens of millions more around the world, it would seem that current programs, many in full swing globally, would do well do amp it up even further if they had the capability volunteer-wise. And apparently, Autodesk, Enable Community Foundation (ECF) and Voodoo Manufacturing all had the same thought in mind, as they came together for Autodesk’s Global Month of Impact.
Here, 28 Autodesk offices, all in different areas of the world, worked many volunteer hours to assemble 750 prosthetic hands for children. This is just one project within the Employee Impact program, truly amazing, as so many Autodesk employees contribute both their own time and funds to make a difference not only in this context, but also in areas such as health, the environment, and education.
You may be familiar with all three of these companies as we are, with the Enable Community Foundation (an Autodesk Foundation grantee responsible for distributing 1400 prosthetic hands so far) famous of course for their work that is centered around 3D printed prosthetics, and most recently another Hand-a-Thon. Autodesk, well-known of course for their CAD programs, recently collaborated with German silver medal winning cyclist Denise Schindler in regards to a 3D printed prosthetic leg that she will be wearing, the first ever of its kind, in the Rio Paralympics. They have also worked with ECF on numerous pro-bono projects of this sort.
Voodoo Manufacturing is a 3D printing factory, dynamic within the industry, and known for their work with ECF—providing them with 150 3D printed Raptor Reloaded hands last year at the Autodesk University Convention in Las Vegas. Voodoo Manufacturing now serves as their largest donor of 3D printed prosthetics.
As all three collaborated on this new project with a much larger scope in mind, here they relied on Voodoo Manufacturing to 3D print 22,500 parts that were then shipped to Autodesk offices and assembled by employees there. To get an idea of the amount of time all of these volunteers spent on this project, just consider that was 750 hands, and each one took ten hours to print. This is the biggest hand-drive to date, with a combined 6,000 volunteer hours just from the Autodesk team. The video below shows you exactly how they spent many of these hours:
Along with the number of individuals already missing limbs, nearly 200,000 amputations happen in the US alone annually. Traditional prosthetics are generally very expensive, costing thousands of dollars, and the process of having one made can be arduous—especially for children, where they may have other health issues already and are forced to spend time being fitted and then waiting for devices that they may have outgrown by the time they arrive.
Here, the hands and arms are customized for the recipients, and are often fun and colorful. We’ve followed stories including a variety of models that kids love, like the Spider-Man arm, and most recently, the Alfie arm designed to look like a minion—and also serving as first fully parametric 3D printed arm, scaleable as children continue to grow and need their design to adapt with them.
The goal of ECF is to use digital design and 3D printing around the world to provide their prosthetics most especially in developing areas. As they work with companies like Autodesk and Voodoo Manufacturing, the hope is that other designers, engineers, and skilled individuals will come forward to help as well in furthering the designs and their mission. The video below offers more insight into this recent project, as volunteers work to string together the 3D printed prosthetic hands. Discuss this major volunteer event over in the 750 3D Printed Hands forum at 3DPB.com.