This startup is 3D-printing prosthetic hands for victims of land mine explosions

Cambodia’s only 3D-printing company teamed up with a Canadian prosthetics non-governmental organization to create 3D-printed artificial hands for Cambodian victims of land mine explosions.

The pairing of ARC Hub PNH and the Victoria Hand Project is intended to make a difference in a country which has among the highest casualty rates of land mines in the world. To date, an estimated 40,000 people in Cambodia have had limbs amputated as the result of land mine explosions.

At present, only a fraction of those people have been helped by the new initiative but the proof-of-concept study hints at greater things. As part of the pairing, a total of 25 3D-printed prosthetics were built. These were designed by the Victoria Hand Project and printed at ARC Hub PNH’s headquarters. Each hand prosthesis reportedly took around 40 hours to print and carried a cost of $320.

One recipient of the 3D-printed hands was 51-year-old Bun Vibol, a man who had lost one of his hands during the Cambodian Civil War, which ran from 1967 until 1975. Able to pick up and grasp objects with “his” right hand for the first time in more than 40 years, Vibol said, “It’s the first time I’ve had a hand like this. I feel like I was born again.”

There is still an enormous amount of work that needs to be done to help everyone affected by land mines in Cambodia (most notably, focusing on eliminating the use of land mines altogether). However, as initiatives like this grab hold in new markets, which didn’t previously have access to transformative technologies such as 3D printing, progress is being made toward helping those in need.

“We have successfully completed the first pilot project to create 3D-printed prosthetic hands for land mine and UXO victims in Cambodia,” the ARC Hub PNH website notes. “We are currently working on developing other 3D-printed medical devices, and are open to collaborations with other organizations in the field.”