Marvel, Awesome Scientists Help Kids Build 3D-Printed Mechanical Hands And Bring Out Their Inner Superhero

The dream of becoming a super hero in real life is one that’s shared by millions of kids around the world. But for eight patients of Houston’s Shriners Hospital for Children who are missing part or all of a hand, they got to be the super heroes in reality, teaming up with bioengineers from Rice University and Marvel to build mechanical hands made from plastic parts printed on 3-D printers.

Rice University bioengineering students, staff and faculty worked with Marvel Universe LIVE! and the hospital this week to not only give kids lacking all or part of their hand a free mechanical hand, but also the chance to build those hands themselves, using Marvel superheroes as design inspiration.

Volunteers from Rice and the online community e-NABLE, as well as performers from Marvel, showed the patients and their families how to put the hands together using plastic parts made on 3-D printers at Rice.

Buying a prosthetic hand can cost more than $4,000, a hefty price especially as young patients usually outgrow several of them during childhood, a Rice University press release explains.

One mother said the hand her son built with the team will be his first prosthetic, and that she thinks the new hand will help boost his confidence, as it’ll make it easier for him to tie his shoes and carry his lunch tray. He has symbrachydactyly, which means he has part of two fingers on his left hand.

“This is pretty much the only option he’s got,” she said. “He’s really not eligible for (more expensive prosthetics) because he’s six, and he’s growing quite a bit.”

And now, sit back and watch kids being extremely happy, and let the waves of warm fuzzies wash over you: