Meet carpenter, Richard Van As. An accident with his table saw cost him two of the fingers on his right hand. As he recuperated, he searched for a replacement that would allow him to get back to work, only to discover that prosthetic fingers cost up to $10,000 per finger, an unaffordable amount for the Johannesburg, South Africa carpenter. Faced with the prohibitive cost of existing options, Van As crafted his own replacement finger from odds and ends around his shop. It worked — barely — and he continued searching for an affordable alternative.Then Van As saw a video featuring special effects artist, Ivan Owen. The video shows a large puppet hand that used steel cables as tendons. Van As contacted Owen immediately.Over the following months, they collaborated on a number of designs for prosthetic fingers, trading ideas and making prototypes. While Van As and Owen were hard at work, they received a call that would alter the course of their mission entirely.Source:http://www.forbes.com/sites/toyota/2013/07/24/3d-printing-and-the-future-of-prosthetics/
The phone call came from the mother of 5 year old Liam Dippenaar. Liam was born with Ambiotic Band Syndrome,a condition causing him to be born without fingers on his right hand.Liam’s parents found the cost of prosthetics prohibitive, especially since he would outgrow them almost immediately. Days later, Van As and Owen fitted Liam with this first prosthetic hand. Milled from aluminium, it was a crude thing but it worked!It also got them thinking about the impact of affordable prosthetic hands on thousands of people around the world but the production process was too difficult. That’s when the pair hit upon the idea of using 3D printing.
Using one of these (a MakerBot 3D printer)…..
…Van As and Owen created Robohand – 3D printed prosthetics. What was revolutionary is the cost of Robohand – a fully functioning Robohand can be produced for around $150.They have published the designs for free and without patents, on Thingiverse (an online hub where you can share your digital designs with the world). It has been downloaded nearly 19,000 since I’ve last looked.
Tony Stark is also a maker!
A maker is someone who creates. Making things should combine form with function. What I love about Making is that it is about appreciating the art and the process of making and crafting. Here are some of the Maker philosophies applied to design.*** [BREATH] ***
I belong to Make Hack Void – a hackerspace in Canberra. Hackerspaces are one of the fastest growing global phenomenon. It a space where people from diverse backgrounds (such as designers, artists, engineers, programmers and more) come together to pool resources to purchase equipment and tools that an individual may not be able to afford – such as lasers, 3D printers, mills and more. The whole idea behind putting people with such diverse interests together is that they can learn from each other, build on each other’s ideas, and make something bigger and better than one person alone could.CROSS POLLINATION from different domains
The EyeWriter is a great example of collaboration driving innovation. The EyeWriter is an open source eye-tracking system that allows people with motor neurone disease to draw using their eyes. This project came about as a collaboration between legendary LA graffiti writer (Tempt1) and Free Art & Technology Lab, Graffiti Research Lab andOpenFrameworks teams. Tempt1 was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and left almost completely physically paralysed.
Makers are constantly working within constraints – often money, time and the physical nature of the thing that they are hacking. The materials you choose are also often a constraint that you become aware off very quickly. This tangible constraint is something that, as digital designers, we sometimes forget about.As designers, we need to understand that constraints is not a bad thing. How often do you hear, “Oh I didn’t have enough time to do X”. While constraints often get a bad rep among designers, creativity in the broadest sense will benefit from even the most arbitrary of constraints. *** [BREATH] ***
Also known as a laser
Prototyping is one of Diego Rodriquez’s 21 Rules of Innovation. Prototyping helps to externalised internal thinking into a tangible form, which makes it easier to communicate. As Diego Rodriguez noted, “you can prototype with anything. Believing that you can prototype with anything is a critical constraint in the design process, because it enables wise action, as opposed to the shots in the dark that arise from skipping to the end solution because zero imagination was applied to figuring out how to run a create a prototype to generate feedback from the world.”Source: http://metacool.typepad.com/metacool/2009/04/anything-can-be-prototyped-you-can-prototype-with-anything.html
Robohand by Richard Van As and Ivan Owen was a process of multiple prototypes. Iterations upon iterations of prototypes.
The capacity to err is crucial for human cognition. Being wrong is not a moral failing or a sign of intellectual inferiority.Makers fail many many times but combine with prototyping, makers are able to figure out the problems and how to make the idea better.By failing, we can figure how to do new things and we learn. But most importantly, don’t give up. While an idea may not work, the learnings you gain is extremely useful in your next project.
Go out, get excited and make things! Enjoy the making process.
To help you do this, join your local hackerspace (a community workshop where people from diverse backgrounds get together to collaborate on ideas and projects).
Want to support the making of prosthesis for children in South Africa?
This image is available under a creative commons licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/bromfordgroup/8691893391/sizes/l/in/photostream/
Rise of the makers
@RuthEllison from @StamfordUX
What Do You Know - Canberra