A generous father who 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for amputee children has crowdfunded $33k to continue sending the life-changing equipment to kids for free.
Australian engineer Mat Bowtell sends personalised prosthetic hands and arms to children at no extra cost to their family, and hopes to use the extra money to make a difference to more people’s lives.
Mat learned the complex skills needed to create the prosthetic tech while on a robotics scholarship in Japan. He was involved in big bucks projects – including creating a $1m robotic arm – which made him think about what he could do for the average person who couldn’t afford the million-dollar price tag.
When he came back to Australia, he invested $5,000 of his own money into 3D scanning and printing technology.
He has since helped many people across the globe, including a Syrian girl who needed a prosthetic arm, and 4-year-old Eli in Sydney who got his very own Iron Man-themed hand. ?
“I think everyone should consider the skills they have and put them to good use.
“We’re driven by money nowadays but it doesn’t give us any real satisfaction,” Mat said. “To be able to help someone for free is total happiness.”
An obstacle Mat initially faced was the expensive international shipping fees required to send the prosthetics overseas.
This led to the engineer setting up a crowdfunding campaign in February with plans to raise $7,000.
Donations currently stand at $33,070, and publicity from the campaign has even brought in offers from Melbourne-based 3D printing software company Robo 3D to sort Mat out with the new equipment he’s after.
Mat has now put a free Creative Commons licence on the design, so anyone can use the life-changing template on a 3D printer.
One arm takes 20 hours to develop and another 20 to print – but only costs around $1 to make (with the velcro at the wrist being the most expensive part, according to Mat).
Now Mat wants to do more to help people who might not have a chance of getting prosthetics in any other way.
“I want to make legs for landmine victims in Columbia and Syria,” he said.
“I can also purchase better quality 3D printers and show other Aussies how to make them so there are more being produced. We need more than just myself on the project.”
Let’s hope more little ones can benefit from Mat’s selfless work ?
You can donate by visiting his My Cause fundraising page
Photos: My Cause/Mat Bowtell