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Aaron Westbrook was born with only one hand. Several years ago, while a freshman at New Albany High School in Ohio, he tried out his first prosthetic. It didn’t fit well, and cost about $40,000, a somewhat staggering sum, considering he would eventually outgrow it.
That’s when I realized that there was a really big issue with prosthetics right now. They’re too expensive and they’re just plain inefficient.
So Westbrook, who is now 18, decided to make his own, using the 3D printer in his school’s fab lab. The plastic hand had an elbow-controlled cable system, allowing its fingers to open or close. Generally speaking, though, prosthetics like that are task-specific; if you need a special grip, you might need to design a different kind of limb attachment. That can mean a lot of different prosthetics, and a lot of expensive purchases.