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A Geeky Good Cause: Help 3-D Print Prosthetic Arms For People In Need

Penguicon is a convention dedicated to science fiction and open-source software, happening the weekend after next. And this year, the convention is supporting a really worthy cause: Enabling the Future, a charity that aims to 3-D print arms for people who need one.


The video above shows a cute volunteer testing out a 3-D printed "raptor reloaded" demo arm, printed by Daniel Denso. But Penguicon's goal is to print 100 arms for people in need, either at the convention or beforehand. And engineer Albert Manero, the designer of the myoelectric (muscle-sensing) arm that Robert Downey Jr. recently gave to the five-year-old Alex, will be there as a guest of honor. According to the page about this initiative:

Before our event, you can help us in 1 of 4 ways:

  • Use a 3D printer to create a limb from their open source designs and bring it to Penguicon. (DIRECTIONS)
  • Bring your 3D printer to Penguicon so we can print on location during the weekend.
  • Help us acquire tools (small hammers, pliers, snips, jeweler-size files) for the assembly process. They’re only needed during the weekend of April 24-26.
  • Get the word out about our effort.

You can also read a quick primer (PDF) about Penguicon and Enable.

Penguicon runs April 24-26 in Detroit, and both Annalee Newitz and I will be there as guests!

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Ivan Nazarov

This is fantastic! You two have a great time in my old home state. This is a wonderful cause, you guys. As an amputee myself (born without a right hand), this means a lot to me, and it will mean a lot to the people you're doing it for. Kudos!