Prosthetic Limbs: 3D Printers Making Superhero Hands for Children – Learn Liberty


I see myself as a cyborg. I started thinking of myself as a cyborg
I guess when I started wearing mechanical hand there. Having that human-machine hybrid. At least when I think of a cyborg, I
imagine someone who spends a large part of their time dedicated to repairing and
upgrading themselves. The more I get into this cyborg thing, the more I start to see technology
as a way to achieve our best self. It’s not about becoming some
kind of universal ideal here. It’s about becoming your own ideal,
what you feel you should be. When I was growing up, if I ever told
you that I couldn’t do something, it was mostly just
because I didn’t want to. Most of the problems that I had,
due to my limb difference, was mostly due to social issues. I was kind of a small kid
anyway growing up, and kind of a geeky one, and then on top of
that, I was the kid with a funny hand. And I ended up getting picked on a lot. And when I first heard about
this hand from my dad, I thought it was just
the coolest thing ever. Occasionally, he’ll have some really
out there, crazy idea that I’m a little skeptical of, but this time,
I didn’t need any convincing. I mean, how much convincing do you
need to give someone a robot arm?>>I didn’t really know what I’d
be making with a 3D printer. Up until I saw the video of little
boy in South Africa, named Liam, who through the wonders of 3D printing,
had received a mechanical hand. A couple guys had developed the design,
and we were able to download the design and
decided to post it and share it. Share the design. So that summer,
which was the summer of 2013, we assembled our own device. So we solved a couple of problems
differently, in our own way. We were able to put together
a hand that worked pretty well. It was really cool but
it wasn’t all that useful yet. I was breaking fingers. It was uncomfortable, not very strong. So it was really that ability,
that freedom, to play with it and modify it and upgrade it, that allowed
us to get to where we are today. No two hands are the same. A limb difference, and
they really are all different. This one’s mine. I got kind of an ideal candidate for this. I’ve got most of a palm,
fully working wrist, and it fits this design pretty well. This is not always the case. There’s a lot of variation. There’s sometimes the question
as to whether someone has enough wrist to use one. It’s not a one size fits all. There’s a lot of work that goes
into making the hands work well with the particular user. Just recently, we’ve been working
with a children’s hospital and Marvel Comics to give kids
some superhero hands. We’ve been working on the Spiderman
hands down in the shop.>>It’s really cool to be making
superhero hands for kids. There’s a certain beauty in
the device not looking like a human. Cuz if it looks like a human hand,
it looks kinda creepy, but also it covers up the limb difference. And what this does is it makes it special. It helps the children to
own their difference. I think it’s great that they ask
me to do the Spiderman hands, cuz Spiderman’s always been my favorite. [LAUGH] My name is John Schull. My current position is
research scientist in MAGIC. That’s RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games,
Interaction and Creativity in Rochester. And I am founder of e-NABLE,
a global network of volunteers using 3D printers to make prosthetic
hands and give them away for free.>>You say I don’t give up.>>No, you don’t give up.>>Okay.>>When I saw that video, I realized
that there was an opportunity to piggy back as that video went viral. And I added a comment
to the YouTube videos, in which I said if you have a printer and
want to help put yourself on this map, and if you need a hand,
put yourself on this map. I’d made a Google Map mash-up
where people could just add pins with their names on them. And that was enough to propose or pretend
that people would start signing up, self-organizing and mass fabricating,
free prosthetics for each other. And unusually enough,
it actually started to happen. Within six weeks,
there were 70 people on the map. And of course they didn’t
just self-organize, they started calling me and
so now what do we do? And I had no idea, but
we created a Google Plus community and it’s been growing by about 1 or
2% per week ever since. And we’re off and running.>>My daughter and
I first heard about e-NABLE, when we were in Novel Labs in Virginia. We were playing with the lasers,
and we saw that there were fingers being printed on a 3D printer,
and asked questions about that. And those guys told us about e-NABLE,
and what they were doing, it just sounded to good to be true. And then we took that back to our scout
troop, and told them what was happening. And there were so
many families that wanted to get involved that they actually went
to e-NABLE’s conference. It was called Prosthetists Meet Printers. And it was at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was an incredibly
informative conference. And we gathered there and decided after hearing what our advisors
had to say there, that this was something that we could really engage the youth
in as a global service project. My daughter has a really
wonderful interest in stem, and to give her the opportunity to have real
hands-on experience, seem incredibly rare.>>STEM, which is science,
technology, engineering, and math, has always been a field
that I found to be a lot of fun. It’s where I felt I work best. This project has been a joy to work on. It was a whole new way
to look at the world. This is a way that you can make
a difference in people’s lives. In the local community, we’re able to work
with kids up to 150 at a time at our huge workshops, and e-NABLE has shown me that
there is an opportunity for me as a kid. Just the fact that I am able to help
lead others to better themselves and better others is kind of a huge part
of my life, and it means a lot.>>We also heard about a group called
Communitere which sets up 3D printers as part of disaster response, and we thought
to ourselves, there ought to be a way for those two to get together. We got our first advisors on how to print,
and we got our first medical advisor,
Dr. Albert Chi. Then three weeks after that, he told us
he was being deployed, and we had 48 days to learn how to 3D print, to learn how
to print and assemble these devices. We knew we were helping people who
couldn’t print for themselves. Tonight in the kitchen, we’re going to
be dumping out all the sticky hands and dusty hands that were assembled by Cub
Scouts, and scrub them and dry them off. We’re going to check them to make sure
that they operate smoothly and safely, and then we’re going to package them
up and send them to the team in Haiti.>>It’s a huge team effort,
but I think it’s awesome. And it goes to show that kids,
teenagers like me, anywhere really, given the right resources and
people, can accomplish great things.>>A lot of people want to learn
what we’ve done and work with us. And together,
we’re creating not only more devices, but more designs that will help these kids. And it’s transformed the adults. It’s transformed these kids who went from some of them wondering if they mattered
at all, to planning to be engineers and looking forward to a future
where they made a difference. And the kids who thought that they weren’t
gonna be able to use a limb are teaching us how to be better designers, because
we’re listening to them as clients. And its transformed what we’ve
thought these devices were for. It’s really a form of self expression and it’s really been a very
powerful message of hope. And its been a change in thinking. So its not really been about the hands. It’s been about changing the way we
think people should help each other and how this could happen.

13 thoughts on “Prosthetic Limbs: 3D Printers Making Superhero Hands for Children – Learn Liberty”

  1. How can you mandate Love? What laws must we pass to open hearts and minds? Looking forward to reading any answers!

  2. +Learn Liberty, I'm really happy with how my message has come across here. You all got the spirit of what I'm trying to accomplish within this movement, and made me sound pretty good while doing so. Thanks so much! <3

  3. Thank you for such a beautiful video about our amazing global e-NABLE Community!! You can see more stories like this on our website: enablingthefuture.org and we welcome anyone who would like to join us!

  4. Can they make an operational helmet like Magneto had? That would be excellent. I HATE religious folk that messed with my life……

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