Dan Bodner spent 11 months designing, and re-designing, prototypes for a 3D-printed prosthetic hand for children who need them. He's now ready for his first patient. (Published Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014)
Dan Bodner didn't come up with the idea of using a 3D printer to create prosthetic hands for children who need them.
The Oakland man does, however, think he has dramatically improved on the designs that were out there, and his version could help hundreds, even thousands, of children with hand deformities around the world.
"I really feel that the goal is attainable," Dan says.
Dan first heard of the concept of 3D-printed hands last year. "I thought it was so incredibly cool," Dan says, "and I could do that."
Dan Bodner runs Fido Systems, a San Francisco outsourced IT firm.
Dan's confidence comes from his background in computing (he runs the San Francisco-based outsourced IT firm, Fido Systems), and his life-long passion for tinkering.
Dan bought a 3D printer, downloaded plans for a design others had come up with, and printed his first hand.
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He was not impressed.
"It had too many parts, it wasn't stiff and was too bulky," was Dan's review.
Dan went through many different prototypes before coming up with a version of a "Fido Hand" he was ready to test on a user.
He spent the next 11 months modifying the design. "I basically had to start from scratch," Dan says. He was able to reduce the number of parts needed to create the hand from 50 down to six. He made the parts easily replaced if broken. He has also come up with a design at that a user could fit themselves, without needing a professional to help them.
"I'm trying to progress to the point where I can just ship it overseas to someone and it will work for them," Dan says.
Until then, however, Dan is busy getting it to work for Mary Saunders.
The Mill Valley 6-year-old was born with just a thumb on her left hand. Mary's parents say their daughter manages very well with her "lucky fin," but still volunteered to try out the first Fido Hand, as Dan calls his creation.
Mary Saunders, a Mill Valley six-year-old born with just a thumb on her left hand has been helping Dan fine-tune his device.
Dan has met with Mary twice, each time listening and observing to find ways he can make the Fido Hand more comfortable and usable for her.
Mary's family hopes that by giving feedback to Dan, they will be able to help other children with "hand differences." They have been impressed with Dan's dedication to the cause. "That kind of energy and that kind of passion you don't find everyday," Fred Saunders, Mary's dad says. "We're just happy to be a part of it."
Dan, for his part, is just thrilled that he has been able to take skills he has gained over a lifetime and put them to use helping other people.
"To make a difference in someone's life is just extremely rewarding," Dan says.
"It's such a feel-good."
Dan says it takes roughly five hours to print all the parts needed for one of his "Fido Hands."