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Here is a name we all should remember when we talk about people who made this world a better place: Richard Van As.
This resilient South African carpenter turned a personal catastrophe into a victory for the disabled everywhere.
After losing four fingers off his hand to a circular saw, he used a 3D printer and created a capable mechanical hand with a design taken from the online-video of a theater-prop.
And now he is offering it to the world! That's right, a 3D printer and a mechanical hand, more proof that students everywhere would benefit from increased access to training in 3D printers and robotics!
Mr. Van As and the designer, theater production designer Ivan Owen of Seattle, call their invention ’Robohand.’
Robohand is made from cables, screws and thermoplastic for the 3D printer which forms a glove-like covering and the grasping fingers themselves.
All jutting bolts, screws, cables and white plastic, it looks like something from a grade “B” science fiction movie.
But forget what it looks like, at only $500 it costs a fraction of what most prostheses that can grab objects cost, and the hands can be re-sized and rebuilt anywhere with the use of the 3D printer, a boon to the injured in poor, war-torn countries where the price of a handsomer prosthesis would be closer to $10,000. 
The creators are on a mission to get these to people in-need worldwide.
More than 170 have been fitted with these already on donations, Van As hopes someday to have the kits on sale in shops but right now the entire design is available for free online at Open Source.
Why free? "I don't want to make money out of misery," Van As said.
More proof, if we needed it, that the world still holds its share of decent people.
  • Sep 25, 2013 10:00:00 AM

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