Build Your Own–Tools for Sharing: Children to Receive 3D Printed e-NABLE Prosthetics at Norwich Castle

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UntitledIn an incredible juxtaposition of ancient and modern worlds, the Norwich Castle in England is the site of the latest Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing exhibit exhibition, offering many different displays, but most importantly, a program offering accessibility to children in need of prosthetic hands. Certainly the contrast between captivating old history and the inspiring new world of technology is not lost on visitors, nor is the comparison of past experiences with attaining prosthetics for their children lost on the parents who are attending.

As usual, we are in awe of e-NABLE and the programs they create for children in need of replacement limbs. The very definition of ‘out of the box,’ this is an organization that has been responsible for not only allowing for numerous innovations to be created in the world of children’s prosthetics hands, but incredibly innovative ways to deliver them.

e-NABLE_logo_500x500Now, continuing with the Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing exhibit that we have followed in the past, Craft Council and Fact teamed up with Norwich Castle--and e-NABLE, once again, not only to show how traditional craft tools and the digital age can merge together and are often combined, but also to put on display what can happen when volunteers come together to help and use 3D printing for the greater good.

The site of the traveling exhibit, Norwich Castle, is nearly a thousand years old. Originally built by the Normans as a royal palace, it has also served as a prison and now–a museum boasting incredible collections and displays. From October 3rd to January 3rd 2016, the castle will host the Build Your Own exhibit, which offers works and displays by numerous makers, artists, and technologists.

Eight families who visited the exhibit were able to find out more about the 3D printed prosthetics for their children. e-NABLE has provided the design for the Raptor Reloaded, which is made of up of 31 parts that are to be 3D printed, with volunteers being employed to fabricate the prosthetics which are capable of flexing, tightening, and gripping. Each 3D printed hand takes about 30 hours to 3D print, and can be made for as little as £10, or $16.70 USD.

There are three 3D printers onsite where volunteers will 3D print the hands and then the families will return to be instructed on how to put them together upon returning next month.

Parents were in awe, especially Mark Evens of Lowenstoff. He brought his three-year-old daughter Frankie to the exhibit. Frankie was born without a left hand, and Evans was very excited at the notion that she would be able to grip for the first time with the 3D printed Raptor prosthetic. She will be receiving a bike for Christmas and her father is hoping the prosthetic will be of help.image

“It is incredible what can be done. Something like this would give her the ability to grip, which she hasn’t had before,” said Evans. ““If she could become the girl with the robot hand rather than the girl with no hand, it would put a positive spin on things.”

The children participating have all been measured by volunteers so that they can begin work on the prosthetics.Grace Baker age 5

“You don’t often come across stuff like this on your doorstep so we thought we would come and see what it is all about,” said Rob Baker, of Stoke Holy Cross, seeing to help three-year-old daughter, Grace. “We would like to have one printed to see what Grace can do with it. It will be fascinating to see.”

As the project draws to an end at the end of the year, the Norwich Hackspace will be the recipient of a 3D printer. The group founds so much potential with the program, and have made it clear that if they could continue past the exhibit, they would.

“The guys here are quite curious about what they can do with the hands,” Marion Catlin, one of the founders of Norwich Hackspace, said. “They want to know what happens if you add motors or add lights to them. There is an opportunity to embellish them.”

While there are many facets to this exhibit, weaving old and new together, one of the most important ones is that of hope. For many, while the exhibit is extremely informative about design and technology, it’s about changing lives due to the accessibility and affordability offered by 3D printing. For families interested in having prosthetic hands 3D printed for their children, they should contact the castle this weekend.

Discuss this story in the Norwich Castle 3D printed Prosthetic forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Photo: Denise Bradley | Source: Easton & Otley College]

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