The teen who built a prosthetic arm for his dad

Robbie Frei’s father lost part of his arm serving in Iraq, so Robbie designed him a new one – then shared his design so people around the world can 3D print their own prosthetics.

Robbie Frei is passionate about the potential of 3D printing. After all, he’s seen its potential first-hand.

Robbie’s father is a Marine veteran who lost part of his right arm in Iraq. One challenge was that he couldn’t play video games with his children. So Robbie designed a 3D-printed adapter for him. He’s since made the design available for anyone in the world to download. The 18-year-old has heard back from several people who have used the adapter – including a 21-year-old Air Force veteran and a man whose daughter has cerebral palsy.

Since then, Robbie has also made a prosthetic for his dad that not only has fingers and can move, but that, like the adapter, could be affordably 3D-printed.

“You design one thing and can email it to someone else… and you’re helping people all over,” Robbie says. “That’s the power of engineering.”

Find out more in this video by BBC Future.

Video by Dan Kavanaugh. Editing by Bernadette Young.

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