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The first “hand-drive” created 750 inexpensive prosthetics for children in the Middle East

  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Prosthetic devices typically retail for tens and thousands of dollars. A recent “hand-drive” designed and manufactured 750 3D printed hands for children all over the world—for less than $50 per hand.

Traditional prosthetics can take several weeks or months to produce and deliver. By using 3D technology and partnering with Voodoo Manufacturing and software company AutodeskEnable Community Foundation (ECF) was able to create affordable prosthetics for children in need. ECF intends to deliver the hands to children in the UAE and other areas of the Middle East. 

Voodoo’s digital factory, which began production in October 2015, was able to produce 22,000 individual hand parts within a month. After manufacture, the parts were shipped to 28 Autodesk offices worldwide. Almost 10,000 Autodesk employees in the US, Canada, UK, China, Singapore, Japan, Israel, Korea, India, and other locations assembled the parts in June, during Autodesk’s Global Month of Impact initiative, which encourages employees to give back to the community. The 750 hands are equal parts right and left hands and they come in a few different sizes.

A tan hand to blend in.

The hands ECF created for the project come in a range of colors from white, black and varying shades of tan. They did not make their signature “Superhero” hands favored by American children because they aren’t accepted by children outside the US, said Ben Thompson, a senior manager for Autodesk’s sustainable business team. Non-American children prefer to blend in rather than stand out.

Learning to use prosthetic devices is easier at a younger age; people often can become experts by the time they are adults. ECF plans to work through clinics and teams in more remote areas to distribute the hands.

Although the hands are ready to be shipped, the companies weren’t able to give their exact delivery date. In the US, where war and disease aren’t as prevalent as other parts of the world, nearly 2 million people live with a limb loss, according to the Amputee Coalition.

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