I'd have used MY robot hand for good.
February 7, 2014 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Louisburg High School junior Mason Wilde had some free time on his hands after giving up football. The perfect project soon fell into his lap: Nine-year-old Matthew, who was born with a condition called limb difference, has only a thumb on his right hand. Wilde modified the free Robohand plans to fit the young boy. Then, using the 3D printer at the Johnson County Library, he created a prosthetic hand that can even hold a pencil.
With a drill, a pair of pliers and about $60 worth of materials, including a dye kit, screws, nylon string and hard plastic for the gauntlet, Wilde put the hand together. Matthew stood by his side.

“He wanted it to be done as soon as possible,” Wilde said.

When Matthew slid his hand into the gauntlet for the first time, he transformed into “the incredible super kid,” running around the house giggling and slapping high fives with his brothers and Wilde.
Wilde, who plans to be an engineer, wants to save up a 3D printer of his own—so he can make prosthetics for other children.

Richard Van As and Ivan Owen discuss the design and creation of Robohand and how the project has helped others.
posted by cellar door (25 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Johnson County, KANSAS?! Figures they would have a flipping 3d printer. I bet they have one in each class room too...

It is awesome this kid has a robothand though. Nine year old me is mega-jelly.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:24 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I love this so hard, but especially that he used the LIBRARY printer.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:28 PM on February 7 [21 favorites]


Their 3D printer is at the library.

Good kid. Good story.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:30 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


This is amazing. The pessimist in me is waiting for the huge penalties that go along with making a medical device or prosthetic without reference to regulatory regimes at the state and federal level, but the optimist hopes .. well, I hope that the people in charge of these things aren't jerks.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:33 PM on February 7


What a great kid! Mason and Matthew! Awesome!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:34 PM on February 7


Okay, this was obviously super sweet already, but once I got to:

Matthew said he wants to always have a Robohand to wear, “but I don’t think I will always have the awesome power of Mason on my side, so maybe not.”

Not to worry, Wilde said, theirs is a “friendship, mentorship relationship,” and he plans to stick around tweaking, tightening and improving Matthew’s Robohand so he can continue wearing one as long as he wants.

I was sunk.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:40 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


It just so happened that Wilde needed a project to occupy some recently realized free time. Playing football, he had experienced his third sports-related concussion. His parents decided, and he agreed, there would be no more of that.

Christ. Football is destroying brains. Awesome brains, brains that could be doing things like designing prosthetic robot hands for disabled little kids, and instead we'd rather sacrifice them by slamming them into other brains so a ball can be transported up and down a field.

Somehow, the tragedy of American football has never really struck me quite as hard before.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:44 PM on February 7 [33 favorites]


That's cool. I also read this week that the first prosthetic hand with integrated sense of touch has been developed and tested with an amputee in Denmark.
posted by briank at 12:57 PM on February 7


I hope that the people in charge of these things aren't jerks.

The people in charge of these things aren't jerks. External prosthetics have a pretty low hurdle to clear in the first place (random googling finds a summary at the Open Prosthetics Project which reasonably has an interest in FDA regulations of prosthetics) and it's a stretch to consider what he's doing either medical research or a commercial enterprise. If he wanted to study the efficacy/safety of these devices there are some reporting rules he's supposed to follow. If he wanted to start manufacturing them, he would likely need to register. But making a private one-off prosthesis is not generally something that impacts public health.
posted by muddgirl at 1:01 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Now, I'd be more worried that the kid gets injured somehow and the parent's insurance companies sues.
posted by muddgirl at 1:02 PM on February 7


I'd be worried about those raw bolt-ends - hyperkinetic little kid is going to rip up the upholstery or himself. Grind those down and use acorn nuts, for crying out loud... otherwise, great job!
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:06 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Our Ship Of The Imagination!: "Johnson County, KANSAS?! Figures they would have a flipping 3d printer. I bet they have one in each class room too..."

Of course, Loiusburg is technically in Miami county. I wonder how much a card costs for out of county members, considering that Joco is rich enough to operate a 3d printer out of its library.
posted by pwnguin at 1:24 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Only thing he needs is a gathering storm and a dusty black coat
posted by Smedleyman at 2:03 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


THESE KIDS ARE INVITED ONTO MY LAWN
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 2:11 PM on February 7 [26 favorites]


I would guess being "rich" has little to do with it. There are a lot of private and public grants out there to go after (my kid's school is far from rich, yet an alumnus grant pays for an extra science teacher), and it's possible MakerBot helped out too. If this story gains any more traction, their investment is paid for.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:16 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I bet they have one in each class room too...

Oh, I hate those Eagletonians.
posted by Spatch at 8:34 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Oh, god, does NO one remember life before 2001?

In The Year 1995, a 1200dpi laser printer cost $1200 in 1995 money, which is like a used Porsche in modern money. You know what was more expensive than a 1200dpi laser printer? By a factor of five? A copy-machine that was also a laser printer!

Guess what my middla-nowheah Row Dyelan Library had in 1995? Ayup. A coppehyah-printah.

$1200 bucks is chump change in a Library budget. I'm shocked and surprised 3D printers aren't more common - it's a clear community win.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:40 PM on February 7


So... is there a fund anywhere to get Mason Wilde a 3D printer?
posted by MrVisible at 11:19 PM on February 7


I'd be worried about those raw bolt-ends - hyperkinetic little kid is going to rip up the upholstery or himself. Grind those down and use acorn nuts, for crying out loud... otherwise, great job!
Heh, I had the same thought. Not that it detracts from the awesomeness, but it jumped out at me as soon as I saw the bolts sticking out the side.
posted by dg at 11:21 PM on February 7


$1200 bucks is chump change in a Library budget. I'm shocked and surprised 3D printers aren't more common - it's a clear community win.

3D printers currently take quite a bit more maintenance than normal office appliances, not to mention the materials used for printing. Not every library will have the budget for materials and the staff capable of maintaining a 3D printer.

But every library should at least be aware that they should have a 3D printer, if it is within their capabilities.
posted by ianhattwick at 9:50 AM on February 8


Back when I was a student, the library charged a small fee for printing or copying. That is probably happening at this library too.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:04 PM on February 8


$1200 bucks is chump change in a Library budget.

Clearly you have not been to Philadelphia lately.
posted by SlepnerLaw at 12:10 PM on February 8


ianhattwick: "3D printers currently take quite a bit more maintenance than normal office appliances, not to mention the materials used for printing. Not every library will have the budget for materials and the staff capable of maintaining a 3D printer."

I'm kinda assuming the IT guy wanted to buy a 3D printer and found a way to make it tax deductible for the low low price of making friends with a bunch of other people who like or want to like 3d printers, and the materials are either BYO or sold on site, similar to being charged to print.
posted by pwnguin at 1:44 PM on February 8


This? This is a hell of a kid. I'd like to meet his parents and tell them what an amazing job they've done raising him.

So... is there a fund anywhere to get Mason Wilde a 3D printer?

I don't have spare funds to donate to such a thing but I imagine lots of people would.

I wonder if this is Kickstarterable.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:26 PM on February 8


FWIW, internally my company charges $5 per printing base + $5 per cubic inch of printing material. Just estimating visually I'd say the pieces of that hand would cost around $50 for the printed parts. It's not really comparable to the cost of making photocopies.

Also our 3D printer is a freaking delicate flower and we seem to need the maintenance guy out once a quarter. Actually that's not much different from our Xerox...
posted by muddgirl at 3:51 PM on February 8


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