Applied ICD: 3-D Printers and Prosthetic Hands from the US to South Africa

Sometimes the most extraordinary intercultural collaborations result from contacts made through social media. The following story started through a connection made through YouTube, between an artist in the US and a carpenter in South Africa, using the latest technology (3-D printers) to create a prosthetic hand.

“A former school supplies salesmen and special effects artist, Ivan Owen in December 2011 shared a video on YouTube of a giant puppet hand that he had made. That video was seen by Richard Van As, a carpenter in South Africa who had cut off some of his fingers with a table saw. He asked Mr. Owen to help devise a prosthesis, and over two years, the pair came up with a workable design. A 3-D printer, they figured, would make the prosthesis cheap and easy to produce. When Mr. Van As learned of a boy in South Africa who also needed a prosthetic hand, they made one for him, too. The idea caught on.”

Mroz, Jacqueline. (February 16, 2015). Hand of a superhero. New York Times.

State of the art prosthetics cost a lot, and children grow so quickly that often people decide they just aren’t feasible. e-Nable has changed that by matching technology and volunteers to over 1000 recipients, many children, in dozens of countries to date.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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