Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Engineering Students Design “Happy Feet,” 3D Printed Shoes for Kenyans Afflicted by Jigger Infection

ST Medical Devices

Share this Article

jigger 2

Roy Ombatti and Harris Nyali

Many Americans have fairly filtered views of the dangers of living in other areas of the world; many people think of animal dangers in Kenya as being lions. While lion attacks are pretty unlikely, a much smaller creature affects 2.6 million people, including 1.5 million school-aged children. The jigger (or chigoe) flea can lead to some pretty terrible symptoms — jigger infections can cause sores, inflammation, secondary infections such as tetanus, and in advanced cases,  even autoamputation of digits or death. Because these particular fleas aren’t gifted jumpers, the most commonly afflicted area is the foot.

Mechanical engineering student Roy Ombatti, a 23-year-old “critical thinker and social innovator,” was a finalist in the 3D4D Challenge, which seeks to use 3D printing for social good. Ombatti has an impressive CV: he co-founded the FabLab Nairobi Outreach Programme for kids, is a Stanford Fablearn Fellow 2014, a two-year International Development Design Summit alumus, and is an avid sportsman. Working with Harris Nyali, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student at the University of Nairobi, he developed an original concept to use modern technology to better standards of living.

royombatti-happy-feet

The concept is straightforward: those afflicted with jigger infections often have foot deformities, and this impacts their ability to walk. By creating specially made shoes, sufferers would remain mobile while also lessening their chances for re-infection. This is particularly important in an area with such high infection rates; over a 20-month period, around 50,000 students dropped out of school due to jigger infections. Furthermore, the conceptual design utilized recycled plastics, adding to the eco-friendly nature of the proposed shoes.

The Happy Feet project created a mobile lab that could go to areas where people need shoes, and where plastic bottles could be recycled into a filament for use in a 3D printer. The recycled PET from the bottles is extruded using a MakerBot Replicator 3D printer and crafted into shoes. Ombatti went to the Netherlands for a few months to study 3D printing and shoemaking, thanks to Baltan Laboratories and HIVOS, and gave workshops and exhibitions of his designs during Dutch Design Week.

5086_22-grayscale

While another project went on to win the 3D4D Challenge, Ombatti’s designs are part of a long-term initiative. According to a rundown on the projects video, the goals are to have an over-arching social impact:

  • Social Impact
    • Empower the Community
    • Bring numbers of those infected down
  • Create Green Jobs:
    • Collection of plastic bottles
    • Cleaning and Sorting
    • Shoe printing business
  • The youth can sustainably earn a living by printing and selling of shoes to Kenyans

The shoes from the Happy Feet project are ultimately useable not only by those with deformed, jigger-affected feet, but for anyone. Sustainable creation of custom-made shoes created from recycled materials could have a major impact on areas in rural Kenya where not everyone has access to correctly-fitted shoes. By 3D printing them using recycled plastics, the impact would be broad, allowing for not only shoes but also a cleaning of communities.

What do you think of the concept of 3D printed shoes? Let us know what you think of Ombatti’s shoes over at the Happy Feet 3D Printed Shoes forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out this video of the original Happy Feet submission to the 3D4D Challenge (warning some graphic images of jigger infections):

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing Webinar and Event Roundup: January 16, 2022

3D Printing News Briefs, January 15, 2022: 3D Laser Printing, Housing, & More



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

Max the Macaw is Back in Business with 3D Printed Titanium Beak

Birds use their beaks for a number of reasons, from grooming and eating to climbing and fighting. Max, a handsome 20-year-old macaw now living in the Hyacinth Haven Bird Sanctuary...

3D Printed Vaginal Rings Could Treat Bacterial Infections

There are plenty of examples in which 3D printing has been used to develop drug delivery systems, but this research out of Hungary is tackling the issue from a new...

3D Printing News Briefs, January 12, 2022: Rebranding, Bioprinting, & More

First up in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, Particle3D has gone through a rebrand, and a team of researchers developed a way to 3D print and preserve tissues in below-freezing...

“California-based Rocket Company” Orders Two of SLM’s 12-Laser Metal 3D Printers

When the equipment you make costs millions of dollars, every sale is newsworthy. When that equipment is meant to revolutionize metal 3D printing and, therefore, manufacturing as a whole, it...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.