Two Men Build a Prosthetic Hand for Young Boy in South Africa, Offers Hope to All Africans
Thanks to two enterprising men, open-source software, and a pair of 3D printers, two men miles apart from each other were able to develop a robotic hand for a 5-year old boy in South Africa.
Not only have they developed a robotic prosthetic for the young boy, named Liam; they’ve also put their design documents in the public domain to allow other people to make less expensive prosthetics using 3D printers.
The story goes that Ivan Owen in Bellingham, Washington and Richard Van As in South Africa were working together to develop a prosthetic hand for Van As, who lost most of 4 fingers in a woodworking accident.
Liam’s mother Yolandi, who is also in South Africa, found out about their work through their blog, and contacted them asking for help getting a robotic hand for her son as well. Liam was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, which causes the amputation of digits before birth.
Owen told Ars Technica how the whole plan went after Yolandi contacted Van As. “When he was contacted by Yolandi, we decided we would have a go at trying to build an initial prototype for Liam in the space of time that I was there as well.”
He added, “We only had 3 and a half days, so, you know, it was an arduous task, but it was something we felt we should definitely do while we were in the same place at the same time.”