3-D Printing Making Superhero Fantasies Come True for the Disabled

 August 17, 2017

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee first highlighted the link between the disabled and heroism when he created Daredevil, the blind attorney from Hell’s Kitchen. Even the Iron Man suit, which acted as a prosthesis for billionaire Tony Stark, would resonate with both the disabled community and those who aspired to invent the sort of technology that could change lives.

Fast forward to today, 8-year old Kaori Misue is having a terrific time riding bikes, skipping rope, baking pastries and even completing intricate craft projects, despite having been born with no fingers on her left hand.

“I had asked for one like Frozen but I got it with these colors and now I look like Wonder Woman.”

Misue is referring to her red and blue, 3D printed hand. Tony Stark is in no way responsible for the ingenious prosthesis. It is actually one of many low-cost prosthetic hands created by a 21-year old Argentinian inventor named Gino Tubaro.

Tubaro and his “Limbs project” first came to the world’s attention after it received praise from President Obama during a visit to Argentina last year. Open-source 3D printing technology initiatives are popping up all over the world. There is the nonprofit e-NABLE organization which provides hands and arms to those born with missing limbs or who lost them to war, disease or natural disaster. Meanwhile, the Build It Workspace studio actually teaches people how to use the high-tech printers that make these endeavors possible.

Like Stark, Tubaro began tinkering at a young age, breaking apart home appliances and turning them into new inventions. He delivered his first 3D printed limb when he was still in high school.

Kaori’s fingers are plastic and bend when she flexes her wrist muscles.

Tubaro’s “Limbs” project is part of a trend of open-source 3D printing technology initiatives around the world. They include the nonprofit e-NABLE organization that groups volunteers to provide hands and arms to those born with missing limbs or who lost them to war, disease or natural disaster, and the Build It Workspace studio, which teaches people how to use high-tech printers.

With the help of an orthopedist, each design can be customized to fit the needs of the individual. More than 500 people are already fitted with the prostheses but there are still at least 4,500 on a waiting list. Volunteers all over the world print, assemble and deliver pieces that can be interchanged to fit a specific purpose, such as playing table tennis or picking up a utensil.

Tubaro continues his inspiring work from his workshop in Buenos Aires. His prosthetics can be ordered from his site: www.atomiclab.org or visit them on Facebook. Please visit our own site for more stories that inspire us in our daily work as advocates for individuals with disabilities.

Leave a Reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}