It seems that 3D printers can be used to create just about anything, from fully functional guns to super skittish robots. And 3D printers could be the solution for amputees in developing countries too, thanks to the work of 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle from Colorado.
Looking to some free online resources, he has used a 3D printer to create a fully functional prosthetic arm and hand that comes with robotic technology. The hand can grip and hold things; even cooler, the 3D-printed robotic prosthetic arm can cost less than $500 to make. By comparison, a state of the art prosthetic worn by a seven year old girl he met at the 2011 Colorado State science fair costs about $80,000.
The 3D printed arm by LaChappelle can be controlled using an EEG headband, which measures brain waves. The user will likely have to get used to the interface and there will be a training period, but that’s pretty amazing for less than 500 bucks. The actual movement of the arm and fingers is done through a combination of fishing line and servo motors.
The Colorado teenager showed off his 3D printed arm at TEDxMileHigh. You can watch the embedded video below for his demonstration.