17-year old Colorado student, Easton LaChappelle, has created a 3D printed prosthetic arm which may provide amputees in developing countries with a vastly cheaper alternative to existing designs.
After building a robotic hand out of Lego when he was 14 which earned him third place at the 2011 Colorado State science fair, he met a 7-year old girl who was wearing a $80,000 prosthetic. Astounded at the cost he vowed to build an inexpensive version of his own.
Using open-source resources, such as Instructables and Shapeways, together with a friend who had a Printrbot 3D printer he started to design the prosthetic using Solidworks.
Combined with an open-source hand, his 3D printed prosthetic arm cost around $250 to produce. He used his experience in creating the electronics to control the Lego hand’s movement when developing the robotics for the arm which uses an EEG headband that measures brainwaves. This allows the user, after a period of training, to control their robotic arm using their thoughts.
The project earned him an invite to the 3rd annual White House Science Fair where he showed the prosthetic limb to President Obama, who was so impressed he suggested that he shows it to DARPA who are developing robotic prosthetics for injured soldiers.
“My goal for all of this is to create an affordable prosthetic,” he told Gizmag. “I am continuing my work to achieve that goal. I have started on the 3rd generation of the arm which will easily top everything so far!”.
LaChappelle is continuing to develop the robotic are and the latest version is stronger, more functional, costs less than $500 and weighs less than a human arm. Watch a video of him presenting the arm to the TED conference below..
Source : Gizmag