A 14 year old boy, Leonardo Viscarra was born with an undeveloped left hand due to a medical problem known as amniotic band syndrome. He was unable to find a prosthetic hand that fit him him properly. So he decided to build one himself, using 3D-printing technology.
As a fetus in his mother’s womb, the boy’s right hand was caught in the placenta and unable to develop properly. He could never use his left hand for basic tasks like picking up or grabbing objects.
And just after few years, he actually managed to build a prosthetic clamp which wasn’t exactly a hand but allowed him to grasp objects. He kept on improving the design towards a more mechanized version.
While researching online, Leonardo learned the story of a French boy who became the first recipient of a 3D-printed robotic hand, and even found a U.S. foundation that manufactured them for kids in need of prosthetics.
Viscarra refused to give up on his struggle and building his own robotic hand. Using the prosthetic hand he received from the U.S. as a sample, Leonardo managed to design the framework of his own robotic hand, which used nylon strings to respond to the movements of his wrist allowing his fingers to move.
Then he requested the Sawers Robotics Institute in his home city of Cochabamba to help in manufacturing the design, which they gladly accepted. And this is how the 14-year resilient boy finally managed to have an advanced prosthetic hand for just $100.
It’s made primarily of thermoplastic, and even though it’s not perfect – the fingers don’t quite close completely – it allows the young boy to do things that he previously only dreamed of.
He has even received several requests for robotic hands. He built one for a 7-year-old girl, but usually he recommends commercially-available models, because his is not as accurate and strong as he would like.