This year we have covered numerous stories detailing the amazing people, companies, and initiatives surrounding the 3D printing of prosthetic hands. Whether it’s been from e-NABLE, Robohand, or one of the other groups out there trying to make lives better through this incredible technology, the stories are all very heartwarming.
Earlier this month we covered an incredible plan by Airwolf 3D and Robohand USA to not only break a world record, but to also put hundreds of 3D printed hands into the possession of individuals all over the planet who really need them.
“Airwolf 3D was considering different charities to contribute to during the holiday season when Robohand was suggested,” explained Penny Savage of Airwolf 3D to 3DPrint.com. “Being a manufacturer of 3D printers, the team figured that they were in the unique position to do the most good for this particular charity. We contacted Ty Esham of Robohand USA and she said she would be absolutely thrilled to take as many of the printed prosthetic hands as we could give her.”
Just printing hands wasn’t enough for the Costa Mesa, California-based company. Erick Wolf, the founder of Airwolf 3D, decided that he wanted to do a ‘3D Flash Print’ which involved makers from around the globe working together for a common cause. He also decided that he wanted to try and break the Guinness World Record for the most machines simultaneously 3D printing in a single location. There was some initial confusion about the record, which Letourneau University had held with 102 printers. The University had ended up breaking their own record only days prior to the print-a-thon, upping the record all the way to 158 3D printers, printing simultaneously. On December 12th, the staff at Airwolf 3D volunteered their time and weekend to this cause and launched their 24 hour long print-a-thon, trying their hand at breaking this record.
“The day before our event we found out that the former record holder (Letourneau University) had claimed to have broken their own world record several days prior with a staggering 158 3D printers,” explained Savage. “Rather than be discouraged, we decided to step up to the plate and attempt to top it. We received an enormous outpouring of support from the community. Everyone from engineers to high school teachers volunteered their printers to contribute to the cause. Matterhackers delivered seven printers and many local enthusiasts showed up in the final hour with various models of printers!”
As the event approached, there was an air of excitement and nervousness, as questions popped up — Would the power support the demands of 170 printers? Would all of the volunteers show up? Would we be able to deliver the 200 Robohands that were promised?
Incredibly, in front of approximately 50 guests — ages 8 to 80, ranging from students to engineers to faculty from prestigious universities — the record was set at a staggering 170 3D printers, printing at one time, in a single location. In the process, the 24 hour print-a-thon managed to produce 201 Robohands, and even after the event ended, they continued to print a variety of hand sizes so that Robohand was sure to have a complete stock of prosthetic devices at their disposal.
“Everyone has a certain talent or gift, and the key is using it to help people out,” says Mark Mathews, president of Airwolf 3D. “We happen to be experts at 3D printing, and this is how we can help people.”
What do Ty Esham and Robohand USA plan to use these particular hands for? She explained their plans to 3DPrint.com this morning:
“I am teaming up with the non profit ‘Water is life‘ and we are going to China in February to make Robohands for children in orphanages that are lacking fingers. The Airwolf hands are a wonderful blessing for this endeavor! I also plan to continue using my hand therapy skills to make custom Robohands for folks here in the US, using FDA approved thermoplastic for custom fabricated hand cap and forearm gauntlet. The Robohands made this way are safe/hygienic and work much better then a totally 3D printed hand. With the Airwolf donations I will be able to bring my costs for these Robohands down to half price!!!”
It’s incredible to watch how the 3D printing community is able to come together for such amazing causes. It’s companies like Airwolf 3D and organizations like Robohand that provide hopes, dreams, and aspirations to individuals around the world. Discuss this incredible story in the Airwolf 3D & Robothand Print-a-thon forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out a few additional photographs from the event below, thanks to Penny Savage.