In his latest effort to bring bionic arms to children who need them, Limbitless Solutions founder Albert Manero announced Thursday that his nonprofit organization will create and deliver arms for 12 children around the country in time for the holiday season.
The arms, which are made with a 3-D printer and run with off-the-shelf servos and batteries, are being created by the group of students at the University of Central Florida, where the technology was developed. Limbitless has now added a team of students from the University of Florida as the first Limbitless branch site, and they have joined the production for one of the 12 arms. The children who will receive the arms live in 11 different states.
“This initiative provides an opportunity for us to give arms to more children while at the same time training dozens more engineers to use this technology,” said Manero, who is earning a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. “It puts us one step closer to ensuring that families do not have to pay for their child to receive an arm.”
Manero and his fellow students received international attention, including on the TODAY Show and CNN, after developing a bionic arm for 6-year-old Alex Pring. Later, actor and humanitarian Robert Downey Jr., also known for his movie character Iron Man, presented Alex with an upgraded Iron Man-themed prosthetic.
Manero announced the 12 Arms for Christmas initiative at the State University System’s Board of Governors Trustee Summit at Florida International University in Miami.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 1,500 children a year who are born with hand or arm deformities.
Prosthetic limbs are easily outgrown and getting insurance to pay for them can be difficult, Manero said. Now with the rise of 3-D printing, Limbitless has been able to bring down the costs to make the arms below $500 in materials, and donates every arm to families in need. More information about the team is available at Limbitless-Solutions.org.
“Albert exemplifies the innovation, entrepreneurship and compassion made possible with the training and knowledge that is available in our State University System,” said Board of Governors’ chair Mori Hosseini. “We thank Albert for the work he is doing for children and for his efforts to make this important new technology available around the world.”
The arms will be delivered to three girls and nine boys ages 5 to 11 living in South Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, Montana, Washington, New York, Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan, Virginia and Florida. The Limbitless team raised the money to purchase the materials needed to make the arms and will be giving them to the children for free. Many of the children don’t know they will be getting the arms by Christmas.