Marissa Nel & Associates a specialist prosthetics and orthotics company used the time during the hard lockdown in 2020 to explore and print 3D printed face masks, this sparked the beginning of a new social development project for children who suffered amputation of their upper limbs.

After much trial and error and many designs later, their 3D prototype hand was completed. The parts are digitally modelled to fit a specific patient, allowing us to produce unique parts which are custom made to suit each individual’s needs.

To print these 3D prosthetic parts, they are working with a type of plastic called Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which has high tensile strength and is very resistant to physical impacts and chemical corrosion.

Once the parts have been 3D printed with ABS plastic, they further apply a post processing procedure to the print in the form of an acetone vapor bath to strengthen all the printed components.  They are also able to reprint any part of a hand if it breaks or is damaged.

The prosthetic hand will allow children from disadvantaged communities to be fitted with a 3D printed hand enabling them to participate in school and sport activities.  The 3D printed hand will change the lives of children who have previously sat out of activities like playing cricket or tennis as they could not hold the bat, allowing them to explore every opportunity presented to them socially.

This unique social development project commencing in the Eastern Cape, will see Marissa Nel & Associates manufacture and donate customised 3D printed hands for all children identified in disadvantaged communities.  

Marsissa Nel & Associates have been manufacturing and fitting prosthetic legs for Ubuko Mpothulo since 2016 after being introduced to him by Joy Scholl the Hospital Manager of Frere Hospital in East London. She asked me to meet Ubuko who was being treated at the hospital as a bilateral above knee amputation patient. Ubuko was using basic prosthetic limbs, but as a charismatic, sporty and inspirational 8-year-old boy he would greatly benefit from prosthetic legs.  Ubuko’s well documented journey resulted in him being offered a bursary to attend Selborne Primary, where he is excelling as a popular and active scholar. “ says Marissa Nel.

We were so excited to be able to print a customised 3D hand for Ubuko who has had to make sacrifices due bilateral partial hand amputations as a result of meningitis suffered as a young child.

“After the amputation of my limbs I had to adapt to a lot of changes, but now with my prosthetic legs and my new 3D printed hand I am able to run freely and play any sport I want just like other boys” said Ubuko

The 3D hand will also be available to adults who have suffered partial hand and trans radial amputations, we are very excited that this adult 3D hand will be launched and available in March 2021. Due to costs involved of traditional prosthetic devices many amputees cannot afford a functional prosthesis. The 3D hand will increase access due to the cost effectiveness.