Students at a high school in the state of Tennessee, in the United States, built a robotic hand for a classmate who was born with congenital problems in his right hand and could not afford to buy a conventional prosthesis.
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According to a report by TV station CBS News, Sérgio Peralta has a malformation that prevents him from performing basic day-to-day tasks with his right hand, such as holding a water bottle or writing an essay using a pen.
“The first few days of school, I honestly wanted to hide my hand, as if no one would ever find out. But then they offered to build a prosthetic hand and I really would never have expected that, not in a million years,” the 15-year-old told CBS.
3D printed hand
The idea of making a robotic hand for his colleague came up in the classes of engineering professor Jeff Wilkins. The students spent approximately four weeks designing and sizing the 3D-printed device so that it would fit perfectly on Sergio’s arm.
With the help of models freely available on the internet, the students were able to create an extremely functional prototype. Already in the first days of use, the boy was able to hold a baseball with his newly printed prosthesis.
“After living 15 years without a hand, they really gave me this opportunity. It was the first time I was able to hold a ball in my right hand and that’s incredibly fantastic. They definitely changed my life,” added Peralta.
A conventional robotic prosthesis can take months to manufacture. Each device, however simple it may be, costs approximately US$ 2,000 (about R$ 10,000 at current prices). In addition, the user needs to wait three to six weeks until the prosthesis is ready.
3D printed prosthetic hands have a much shorter lead time. Depending on the complexity of the project, they are ready to use in two or three days. Another plus is the price, as an entire 3D-printed arm can be manufactured for around $400.
“This robotic hand is proof that our students care about their peers. Being able to deliver an economically viable prosthesis to someone who would never be able to afford it is something we would like to see in other attitudes, outside the school environment”, added Professor Wilkins.
Source: CBS News