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How does a $50 3D-printed hand match up to $42G prosthetic?

 

Jose Delgado, Jr., 53, was born without most of his left hand and has been using prosthetic devices for decades. His current device, a myoelectric prosthesis, is valued at around $42,000.

Due to the high cost of prosthetics, groups like e-NABLE, comprised of a global community of volunteers, have been formed with the goal of providing free 3D-printed devices and parts for people in need.

Jeremy Simon, an e-NABLE volunteer and founder of 3D Universe, had an idea: make a 3D-printed mechanical hand using $50 worth of materials and see how it compares to the $42,000 prosthetic. The results were shocking.

"Certainly we're not making an apples to apples comparison -- these are entirely different kinds of devices -- but the comparison I was trying to draw with Jose was strictly in terms of day-to-day functionality what's more useful," Simon told FoxNews.com. "It turned out [the 3D-printed] one was."

Delgado Jr., who tested the device, told Simon the grip of the 3D-printed hand made it more functional in many cases than the more expensive prosthetic.

"It's useful for carrying boxes," Delgado Jr. said. "These are more grip and won't let go of much."

Simon found the design for the 3D-printed via e-NABLE.

"We're talking about 3D designers, university professors, occupational therapists, medical professionals, all sorts of people are in this community and they all give completely freely of their time and efforts," Simon said.

Simon hopes the 3D printing movement will continue to grow, and hopes philanthropic efforts like those of e-NABLE will thrive.

"As long as there's still people willing to do this kind of work, the technology is going to continue to get more accessible and more affordable," Simon said.