As previously chronicled here on Bits & Pieces, today’s next-gen technologies continue to improve and sometimes even save the lives of accident victims. This story was yet another triumph for the Maker Movement making a difference. With the help of a $100 3D-printed design, one do-it-yourselfer has regained some of the ability to use his hands after an accident he suffered on the job.
Kamarata was a pipe fitter by trade, a home handyman by desire. One day last October, while working on an outdoor project, he had set up his miter saw. The piece he had was short, and he wanted to cut it into 2-inch sections; however, being right-handed, he guided the electric saw with that hand and held the wood in place with his left, near the cutting surface. Before he knew it, the saw caught the wood, throwing it toward Kamarata. His left hand slipped into the blade and just like that, four fingers just above the middle knuckles were gone.
With his fingers unable to be reattached after the incident, he was devastated that he’d no longer be able to use his hands to work. He then ran into a designer friend, Casey Barrett. In one conversation between the two, Kamarata expressed his disappointment in the high pricing of many top-notch prosthetics, which could run upwards of $40,000.
Barrett studied Howard’s issue and recalled some information he had previously seen online about 3D-printed prosthetics. Combining his friend’s cause and his own interest in 3D printing, Barrett decided to look deeper into the subject. He found some plans online and proceeded to produce a series of finger replacements. Each finger has 3-hinged digits and can slightly flex. The duo then took a glove purchased from Home Depot and some braided fishing line to assemble the complete hand. In all, the contraption cost less than $100 and provided priceless benefits to Robert.
“I was able to hold things again,” the handyman tells AZCentral.com. “I could pick up a water bottle.” While these may seem like trivial tasks, they are tremendous achievements for someone who thought they would never be able to utilize their hand again. After his success story, Robert has begun working with the RecFX Foundation to try and help others regain abilities through similar technology.
Researchers continue to explore the use of 3D printing for body parts, particularly those in which come in contact with the body but don’t enter the bloodstream — these include teeth, hearing aid shells, and prosthetic limbs.