Daniel Hobbs is an 11-year-old boy who would seem like any typical kid his age. He plays sports and enjoys riding his bike. He also hangs out with his friends and goes to school. But while Daniel’s mother was pregnant with him, doctors informed her that he had a congenital malformation that would result in him being born without a lower left arm.
But this didn’t stop Daniel from doing what he enjoys. Along with a prosthetic hand he has had since he was seven years old, he is able to perform physically – but as he grew older, he outgrew his prosthetic limb.
The Price of Prosthetics
High-end medical-grade products are still very expensive, especially for Daniel’s parents who live off a teacher’s salary. Even with the initial fundraiser for Daniel’s prosthetic hand, which raised enough to cover the $1,800 charge, Daniel is outgrowing the limb and requires it to be retrofitted each time. The costs add up quickly, and his parents have paid over a thousand dollars for the fittings.
Thus, his family began the search for an alternative option. “We know [3D printing] is the future of prosthetics. We’re really interested to see what the future holds,” says Daniel’s mother, Abby Hobbs.
Indeed, just within the last year, we have seen a host of breakthroughs in 3-D printing replacement body parts.
Here’s a video where you can check out Daniel’s new prosthetic hand:
A Real-Life Iron Man
Intel and 3D systems took the challenge and teamed up to create an affordable, lightweight prosthetic for Daniel. Leading the mission was 3D Systems Application Engineer Evan Kuester, which involved taking a highly-detailed scan of Daniel’s arm to see if everything would fit correctly. Shortly, Kuester created a prosthetic hand that weighs less than two pounds and comes with sixteen movable pieces – all at the amazing price of $400.
With a greater range of motion and interchangeable parts to allow him to perform certain tasks, such as holding certain tools and playing musical instruments, Daniel foresees less limits to his physical abilities.
What will the future of prosthetics hold next?