GUADALAJARA, Mexico – A team of academics and students at the Guadalajara campus of Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) are using low-cost materials and 3D printing to create prosthetic devices that have already changed the lives of a half-dozen people with an amputation or malformation.
Marisol Maldonado was born without her right hand due to a congenital disorder. It was not until the age of 25 that she had the experience of grabbing a steering wheel with two hands, twisting off a water bottle cap without assistance and doing other activities with greater facility.
A month ago, Maldonado received a prosthetic device manufactured by Enable Tec, an ITESM project that benefits low-income individuals in the western Mexican state of Jalisco.
“It was my birthday present from Enable Tec, and my life definitely has changed a bit. It’s like going back to kindergarten, when all the kids would look at you and ask ‘why don’t you have a hand?’” the young woman told EFE.
She said her friends and relatives ask her how she uses her new artificial extremity and that she has had to get used to people staring at her.
“But this time it’s exciting,” she said with a smile.
Her prosthetic device was made using additive or 3D printing and materials such as polylactic acid and NinjaFlex, while the designs come from free or open-source models that are manipulated based on individual need, Santiago De Colsa, one of Enable Tec’s leaders, told EFE.
The team of six academics and students of different disciplines can build a range of devices – from replacement fingers to prosthetics for amputations below the shoulder line.
In the coming days they will deliver a prosthetic hand to a four-year-old boy, a device that features a small dinosaur on the back at the child’s request.
The Enable Tec team plans to seek out institutional support and partnerships to raise funds and help more people in the coming months.
People interested in these prosthetic devices can contact the project leaders via social media.