‘Spiderman’ arm produced for young boy by Tallaght students
By Mary Dennehy
A TEAM of engineering volunteers at IT Tallaght handed over a workable, specially customised Spiderman arm to a young boy this week – with the team now looking at the possibility of assisting child amputees in conflict countries.
The innovative 3D Assist team at IT Tallaght, which is made up of volunteer graduates, lecturers and students, prints 3D prosthetic arms for children – who are given the new, customised limb for free.
Over recent months, the team has created prosthetics that were inspired by Frozen, Iron Man and football teams, with a Spiderman arm for Waterford boy Ben Feeney – who was born without an arm from the elbow down – being the latest creation printed.
Volunteer Elaine McGeough, who works in the college’s materials laboratory, told The Echo: “Ben’s mam Sarah saw what we do on Facebook and got in touch to see if her son was suitable, which he was.
“Here at 3D Assist we create arms for kids who have at least 30 degree motion in their wrist or elbow, with our young customers encouraged to suggest what they would like their prosthetic to look like.
“It’s very cheap to print these prosthetics and we can easily change them as the child gets older, or their interests change.”
Elaine explained that the service can be provided for free due to support from the college, which provides materials, and local businesses, with the two 3D printers on site donated to IT Tallaght.
“It’s great that we can provide these prosthetics for free,” Elaine said.
“If anybody has a child who needs a 3D prosthetic they can contact us through the Facebook page.
“Everything is completely free, all they have to do is meet us so we can take some simple measurements and once they have the required range of motion in the elbow or wrist we can print their hand or arm.
“There are a lot of children who can benefit from what we do here and we are also looking at the suitability of these prosthetics for the places in the developing world where, because of conflict, there would be a high rate of traumatic amputations.”
IT Tallaght students John Roche, Garry Sheridan and Aidan Darcy, who are students across Mechanical Engineering and Energy and Environment Engineering, volunteered their time to work on Ben’s arm over the summer months.
Part of an international project called Enabling the Future, 3D Assist can be contacted through its Facebook page.
Any businesses interested in sponsoring the project is also invited to get in touch.