Your Community

University students fit Florida boy with 3-D-printed arm

Categories: Community, Features, Science & Technology, World

 Alex Pring, 6, tries out his prosthetic arm. (Screengrab/Orlando Sentinel)
For the first time ever, six-year-old Alex Pring hugged his mother with both arms. 

The momentous feat for the six-year-old Florida boy born without part of his right arm was made possible after an engineering student and his colleagues built a prosthetic, largely out of a 3-D printer, according to the Orlando Sentinel

"When he hugged me with two hands, he just didn't let go," Alyson Pring told the newspaper.

Pring reached out to Albert Manero, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida, through e-NABLE, an online network devoted to creating 3-D printed prosthetic hands for those in need, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"My mother taught us that we're supposed to help change the world," Manero said. "That's why we did it."

Over seven weeks, he and a group of colleagues tried out several ideas and had prepared a prototype by early June.

This week, Manero fit Alex with the prosthetic, showing the boy how to operate it by employing the muscle energy in his upper arm, which "he learned pretty fast," the Ph.D candidate told the Orlando Sentinel.  

"The first thing he did when he could actually control it a little bit was hug his mother."

According to Today, the prosthetic -- created using a 3-D printer and gears and batteries -- cost about $350 US to construct versus up to $40,000 US that similar prostheses market for. Its battery can run for a whole day after a single charge, the website reported.

Plus, as Alex grows up, new parts can be printed for an estimated $20 to $50. 

Manero made the design available online for others to use and is hopeful they can improve on it, Today reported.

"We hope that people will take what we have and make it so much better," he said. "I have no doubt that the international community will try to move this technology forward and lower the cost."

As for Alex, he is excited to use his new arm.

"I want to be able to shake everyone's hand, even hug mommy," he told WFTV.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.