Teen uses 3-D printing to build a new arm for his veteran dad

An ambitious teen used his ingenuity, know-how and a little technology to build a new arm for his veteran dad, who was wounded in Iraq.

St. Louis high school student Robbie Frei built a custom-made robotic prosthetic arm for his dad, who is an amputee, according to Fox 2 St. Louis.

Frei, who has said he wants to go into robotics when he hits college, built the arm for his father in about 3 months. Frei's father was injured in an RPG attack in 2003 in Iraq.


But first, he built an arm adapter for the Nintendo Switch video console to allow his dad to play video games again.

“When my dad was injured in the Marines he wasn't able to play video games with us for about 10 years, and after I created that 3D printed adapter he was able to play with us full speed,” Frei said.

Eventually, he created a custom scanned prosthetic, using his dad's left hand and then mirrored it to be able to used for his right hand. Robbie's father can now throw a ball using the prosthetic.

This isn't the first time Robbie has exemplified his talents, according to those who know him.

“He knows how to get projects done and comes up with amazing things,” said robotics advisor Derek Ward. “He's been on the robotics team for six years now. So, just to watch him go from a seventh-grader to a 12th-grader, (I'm) not surprised he can pull something like this off.”

Frei, who is a National Merit finalist, credits his accumen in math for honing his ability to take a challenge and come up with a solution.

“As soon as I start to test different alternatives I start to narrow in on something,” Frei said.  “It's sort of more discovery than inventing, in a way.”