robot doing math robot doing math Businesses are teaming up to 3D print hands for people. (Photo: Phonlamai Photo / Shutterstock)

Are robot arms about to get less expensive?

Entrepreneur Easton LaChappelle is using 3D printing to change the prosthetics game.

I think I speak for all of us when I say, "Where are all the cyborgs?" We were supposed to have cyborgs by now. I want to be able to replace any part of my body with a super advanced robot version to run really fast/see really far/etc.

Luckily, one whiz kid is on it. Entrepreneur Easton LaChappelle was only 14 when he built his first prosthetic hand out of LEGOs (OK, not so impressive) and 17 when he started his prosthetics company, Unlimited Tomorrow (solidly impressive). Unlimited Tomorrow has since made some pretty cool artificial body parts; it even once 3D printed a heart to save a little girl's life.

Now, LaChappelle is teaming up with Stratasys, a 3D printing company whose R&D is headquartered in Israel, to make robot arms for cheap.

Why do we need cheap robot arms, you ask? Prosthetics normally can range from $20,000 to $100,000 each. By using 3D printing, Unlimited Tomorrow could bring costs down.

“We view 3D printing as a catalyst for healthcare innovation to enable better patient care, streamline procedures, and improve learning,” said Arita Mattsoff, a vice president at Stratasys. “Unlimited Tomorrow is bettering the lives of children worldwide with practical and affordable custom-fit devices.”

We seem to be living through an age of robot body parts. People are cycling with prosthetic legs and studying how brains remember missing limbs. Cheap robot hands could help people who have lost their own human hands. It could also lead to a sci-fi, moral-quandary-filled robot era, but let's not get too excited just yet.


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