Father makes 3D printed arms for son

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Media captionThree-year-old Tommy is able to shake hands after his dad built him a 3D printed arm.

A father whose son was born with no right hand has created several artificial limbs for him using a 3D printer set up in his bedroom.

Three-year-old Tommy Dengel can now pick things up, shake hands and “fist bump” his dad Adam using his DIY arm.

After a charity provided the design, Mr Dengel, 29, bought a 3D printer and spent hours mastering the technique.

He said one of his son’s favourite arms – the Buzz Lightyear one – had broken due to constant use.

Image copyright Adam Dengel
Image caption Adam Dengel said his son loved showing off the colourful arms to other children

Tommy was born with a short forearm and missing his hand due to amniotic band syndrome – a rare condition where stray bands of tissue wrap around the limbs of an unborn baby and cut off blood flow.

Unhappy with the basic NHS prosthetic, Mr Dengel, from Barnsley, started looking at alternatives.

Friends made Tommy his first mechanical arm with the the help of charity Team UnLimbited – which designs, prints, builds and fits 3D printed hands and arms for children for free.

Image copyright Adam Dengel
Image caption The toddler has built up a selection of arms in varying colours – the NHS prosthetic is on the right
Image copyright Adam Dengel
Image caption One of Tommy’s favourite tasks when wearing his arm is to practise picking up his Woody soft toy

Mr Dengel said: “Tommy was absolutely over the moon with it. When I saw the smile on his face I just thought, right this is something I need to do.”

Each arm costs about £15 to make and consists of plastic which is strung together with fishing wire and orthodontic elastic bands.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Dengel and his wife Katie are working on setting up a charity to help other children with limb differences
Image copyright Adam Dengel
Image caption The family wants to research and design new electronic aids to help make day-to-day life easier for children

It is strapped on to Tommy’s limb with velcro and when he moves his upper arm it triggers the functioning of the hand.

Mr Dengel, who has so far made six arms, said he and his wife Katie were working on setting up a charity to help other children with limb differences and their families.

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