By Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Earlier this month, actor Robert Downey Jr, presented a bionic ‘Iron Man’ arm to a 7-year old. Alex Pring, the lucky boy from Florida who received the gift was born with a partially formed limb.
Downey Jr, who sarcastically told him that he was a “leading bionics expert”, was privileged to gift Alex with the 3D-printed bionic arm. The bionic arm was part of the Collective Project’s mission.
The Collective Project is fundamentally a team of students, all over the world, whose aim is to bring change in their communities. One particular student from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the United States, has done his part by providing affordable 3D-printed, bionic arms to kids in his local community.
Albert Manero, a mechanical engineering graduate, found out about the Collective Project through Microsoft OneNote.
Manero worked on his first bionic arm for eight weeks, after hearing that children who were born with partially formed limbs, or who had lost them through accidents couldn’t afford to get bionic limbs. So, he aimed to make more affordable 3D-printed, bionic arms for children.
While working on this project, he had a team of volunteers who gave him a hand in building bionic arms. He also makes his designs available to others who wish to help.
Manero is now the founder of Limbitless Solutions, a growing team of volunteers who come under the global volunteer community, e-NABLE. e-NABLE, like Limbitless Solutions, consists of engineers and 3D designers who commit time to help the ‘underserved members’ of their communities.
In a ‘hand-a-thon’ organised by e-NABLE, a group of student volunteers from the University of Central Florida, along with Albert Manero and students from two other universities in the US, worked on devices that were to be assembled and shipped out of the country. Sixty bionic arms for children were put together,at the end of the session, and sent to Mexico; a significant achievement for the team.
The Limbitless team is now looking at creating bionic lower limbs as well as elbow joints.
Manero said that his parents had always encouraged him to dream big and use his education to help others.
Alex Pring, the first recipient of Limbitless’ 3D-printed bionic arm is more confident now, and wants to help other children like him.