Over the past year or so, we have covered dozens of stories of 3D printed prosthetic hands, most of which have been created by a group of volunteers from e-NABLE. e-NABLE is an organization of individuals who share designs, ideas, and tips for 3D printing prostheses for children in need. Recently there have been a plethora of unique designs originating from this organization, providing children with prosthetic hands themed after their favorite movie characters, comic book personalities and more.
For 15-year-old Joe Oxenbury, he was born without fingers on his left hand. His loving father Chris admits to breaking down in tears when he first saw Joe in the hospital after being born.
“I realized he had no fingers on his left hand,” writes Chris Oxenbury. “I was devastated. I burst into tears. This goes against my rule: you’re only allowed to cry if someone dies, stubbing toes, severe physical pains and onions are allowed.”
It turns out that Joe never was made fun of in school. In fact, he has plenty of friends who treat him as they do with their other friends. When it comes to video games, Joe has no problem playing them either. Chris says that he’s actually quite the “wiz” when it comes to playing games on the XBox, iPad, PC and Nintendo DS.
Years ago, Chris took part in a fund raiser in order to have a prosthetic hand made for his son. It was a 24-hour charity event, which culminated in raising over $3,000 needed in order to have the prosthetic hand created for Joe. In the end though, while the prosthesis looked great, its functionality was pretty much nonexistent. Chris wanted Joe to be able to have a prosthesis that would actually give his left arm more function. So when he came across a Youtube video of another child who was using a 3D printed prosthetic hand, he immediately knew that this was something he wanted to get for his son.
Chris found the website of e-NABLE, contacted them, and was subsequently put in contact with a volunteer from his area in the United Kingdom, named James Holmes-Siedle. James and Chris sent several emails back and forth to each other, before they decided exactly what Joe would need. James sent Chris a measuring device to determine the size of Joe’s arm. Once the sizing was complete, Joe had to decide which design he wanted. He ended up picking a Steampunk design that was Darth Vader-esque in looks and James proceeded to 3D print it.
“It is a bit like the one Darth Vader had in Star Wars,” explained Joe. “I chose it deliberately as I was going for that kind of style and colour. I was very happy when it arrived. It was better than I thought it would be.”
The Darth Vader looking prosthetic hand only cost about £30 to make using free open source designs and a desktop 3D printer. While it took about 20 hours to print out, within ten minutes of putting the hand on, Joe was picking items up with ease.
“This new hand feels like part of him. When he rotates his wrist, his fingers clench,” explained Chris. “When Joe gets older and grows, we can just print out a new one or new parts to fit him. It is always going to be printable. That is the beautiful thing about it. When Joe was born, I thought some kind of technology would be able to help him, and now, 15 years on, we are there.”
You have to love technology. When combined with parents who care about their children, and volunteers willing to donate their time for the well-being of strangers, 3D printing can make a huge impact.
What do you think about this incredible story? Do you like this Darth Vader-esque prosthesis? Discuss in the 3D Printed Darth Vader hand forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out Chris and Joe’s unboxing video and additional photos below.
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