Team Unlimbited is working hard to ensure that children can experience life with the use of both hands. The founders volunteer their time to create 3D prosthetics free of charge to children who need them.
Growing up comes with a whole host of challenges, but what if one of those problems includes not having an arm or a hand? Many children across the world face the difficult circumstance of not having both upper limbs. Whether due to congenital abnormalities or accidents, some children navigate life with a physical disadvantage.
Stephen Davies knows precisely what it feels like to experience life without both hands. Born without a left lower arm, Davies was issued an archaic-looking prosthetic as a child. He described his prosthetic as a “claw from medieval times.” To this day, he remembers how challenging it was to feel different as a child.
Davies managed without a prosthetic for much of his life. However, at the age of 42, he decided to search for a prosthetic again, only to find that the ones being issued by the UK National Health Service (NHS) had not improved much since his childhood. He searched the internet and came across an organization called e-NABLE.
e-NABLE is a community of engineers, teachers, designers, students, parents, and artists from all over the world who utilize 3D printers to make hands and arms for those in need. The community openly shares their information, such as design ideas, and provides 3D prosthetics free of charge to people around the world.
Davies filled out an application with e-NABLE and was introduced to Drew Murray, the man who built Davies first hand. Inspired by the e-NABLE community, Davies raised enough money to purchase his own 3D printer. With the mentorship of Murray, Davies started Team UnLimbited, a 3D printing operation that makes prosthetic upper limbs right out of his backyard shed at his home in Wales.
Team UnLimbited works with children who select their colors and patterns for their new personalized arms. Some choose themes such as Spider-Man or Lego, while others pick glow-in-the-dark arms. Allowing the children to have input into the design of their new body part adds to their experience and sense of independence.
Modern bionic limbs can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a child tends to outgrow them quickly. Team UnLimbited produces their 3D arms for approximately £20-30, which is equivalent to $26-40 US dollars.
The artificial limbs created by Davies is straightforward machine that works through tension created by bending the elbow to control the hand. In other words, bending the elbow clenches the fist, while straightening the elbow opens the hand. As the designs are simple, children can upgrade their arms regularly as they grow and as their tastes and desires change.
Davies does not make money for his work, refusing to charge children for his services. Instead, he solicits donations for the cost of the materials, volunteering his free-time and design skills to develop his product. Equally impressive, he shares his designs online for free, ensuring that others can replicate his work and thus lend a hand to more children around the world.
Those who donate to the cause are deemed heroes. To join the heroes helping children across the globe, contact Team UnLimited.