Spanish toy maker turned inventor creates 3D printed prosthetic arms
A toy designer passionate about 3D printing is changing the lives of children with disabilities around the world with a line of bespoke prosthetics.
Eight-year-old Juan Moyolema, born without the lower part of his left arm, was delighted to receive a new hand from Madrid-based Ayudame3D.
It was only a few minutes before he tested the new hand, slowly flexing his elbow to close the grip.
His sister and two brothers both watched him nervously and then with glee as he took a test drive of the new 3D prosthesis.
“It’s going to help me pick up things, things like toys,” he said with a smile, before shyly shaking hands with Guillermo Martinez, the founder of Ayudame3D.
Mr Martinez, 27, started tinkering with devices as a hobby, but after a trip in 2017 to deliver prosthetics to an orphanage in Kenya’s Rift Valley, he decided to devote himself full time to the task. ‘initiative and created Ayudame3D.
“The five arms that I took (to Kenya) … were working so well, so perfectly, that I asked myself, ‘How can I stop here?'”
He works from a converted shipping container filled with dozens of printers, prototypes, and scraps.
Prosthetic arms are based on three basic designs reaching to the wrist, elbow, or shoulder, and are made of plastic.
Four years later, Ayudame3D has grown and delivers up to 250 guns per year all over the world, free of charge, to anyone who requests it.
Mr Martinez did not give an exact figure for their manufacturing cost, but said it was a tiny fraction of a traditional prosthesis, which can cost as much as $ 40,000.
His organization relies on donations and awards, and also gives companies 3D printing courses.
He now wants to expand the reach and product line of Ayudame3D.
“We just want to help as many people as possible. If we are in 50 countries this year, we hope to be twice as many next year.”
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when face masks were scarce and many healthcare workers were working unprotected, the group made and donated some 20,000 plastic face shields.