Kids Build Their Own 3D-Printed Superhero Prosthetic Hands

A typical prosthetic hand can cost $4,000 or more, and young patients can outgrow several of them during childhood. Rice University bioengineers recently teamed up with Marvel Universe LIVE!, Houston's Shriners Hospitals for Children, and the global online community e-NABLE to offer a free mechanical hand to the families of eight Shriners patients who lack all or part of one hand. The volunteers helped the patients and their families build the hands out of plastic parts that were made on 3D printers at Rice. E-NABLE creates open-source designs for mechanical hand assistive devices that can be downloaded and 3D-printed for under $50 in materials. They are light, rugged, and customizable to a child's changing size, needs, and interests throughout childhood. "One of the recent trends in e-NABLE's 3D maker community is to develop hands on a particular theme," says Rice lab manager Anderson Ta. "Kids love superheroes, and it's really exciting for them to be able to have a hand that matches the theme of their favorite character."