Easton LaChappelle is a 21-year old engineer who less than two months ago, produced fully functional robotic arms fit to be used by a 9-year old called Momo, using a 3D printing device. A three-part documentary series has just been launched by Microsoft and Belief Agency that will consist of three episodes, each lasting around 5 minutes, that will go into detail about the different chapters of Easton’s work.
Millions of people across the world are in need of a prosthetic device. The problem is that the average cost of one such fully-functioning device stretches to over $100,000. At the young age of just 14, Easton created his first ever robotic hand using LEGO, fishing wire, and electrical tubing. In 2013, President Obama shook the budding engineer’s first prototype at the White House Science Fair.
Over the past four years, Easton’s been busy trying hard to produce fully-functional prosthetics that are affordable and accessible to those who need it most. 3D printing Momo’s arm was just the start. Easton now offers open-source prosthetic designs that anyone who has a 3D printer. He is hoping to one day achieve a kind of modular, plug-and-play prosthetic kit being made available in a range of sizes.
Easton is now seven years into his project and still going strong, creating innovative products by incorporating 3D printing into their design. When Easton was told about Momo’s condition, straight away his mission was to create an arm for her. Momo’s arm could then serve as a model for thousands of others that are in need of a prosthetic arm but are unable to afford one. Just as Easton’s funds started to run low, Microsoft got wind of the project and decided to invest, filming the story in the process.
Microsoft then employed Easton to work in their “black ops” prototyping lab in Seattle, where he ended up staying for over two months, working long nights to ensure Momo’s arm would be ready for her visit. Finally, the arm was finished just a few hours before Momo arrived in Seattle. Even though Easton and Momo had spoken several times before, never before had they met in person, and it was a nice touch that he was able to deliver the arm in person.
The arm itself looks like a real, human arm with movable fingers and even fingernails. It’s even been designed to break like a real arm in the event of a fall. Ultimately, Easton would like to make prosthetics available and accessible to those who need them but can’t afford them. Using his method, people all over the globe can complete 3D scans and print themselves using limited resources.
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