Margaret Eby
February 17, 2015 12:14 pm

For little kids, missing a finger is more common than you might think. One in 1,000 infants is born with at least one finger missing, and many others lose their fingers in accidents or through amputations.

Though prosthetics are available, they’re complicated and expensive, and children outgrow them so quickly that they aren’t useful for long. So a whole population of children has to learned to do things with one hand. That is, until now.

The rise of 3-D printing has been a huge boon for children missing fingers, the New York Times reports. The Times shed light on one nonprofit, E-nable which has been up and running since 2013, and is working to help distribute 3-D printed hands to children in need, with great success. Not only are the materials cheap enough that growing out of a hand isn’t that big of a problem — they’re like $30 to $50 — they also work just as well as the costlier prosthetics.

Plus, with these 3-D printed hands little boys and girls get to design their new hands to look like whatever they want. Most spectacularly, instead of having a disability, many of these kids get to feel like they have a superpower. As the Times article stated:

That’s a huge deal. Take Ethan Brown, an 8-year-old from Opelika, Alabama, who was born with two fingers missing. He used to be teased about his missing digits, his mother told the Times. “Now he’s different in a cool way, and the other kids say they want a new hand, too.”

Also, if you want to feel some feelings you can check out the E-nable vide, which shows volunteers making the hands, as well as the kids reaping the benefits of their new tools.

There are a bunch of hand styles available via E-nable including The Odysseus Hand (which only has three fingers) and, The Raptor Hand (which seriously makes it look like you’re about to save the world), our personal favorite might be The Raptor Reloaded which allows for painted fingernails. The Cyborg Beast, which is super popular, looks like something you might see in a Michael Bay movie.

Many of the hands are put together by volunteers and the Times piece noted that putting together these 3-D hands, “is not much harder than putting together a complex Lego kit.”

The whole endeavour is enough to make us want to quit our lives and go be scientists. Think just how much inventions like this are changing the world! And then zoom it in a little bit and think about how much inventions like this can change the world for individuals. That’s something worth celebrating.

[Image via]

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