Bun Vibol, a fifty-one year old amputee, is finally getting his other hand back. He is one of 40,000 amputees in Cambodia, the country with the highest landmine rates in the world. Vibol had lost his right hand when he fought in Cambodia’s civil was around 30 years ago.
How did he get his hand back? Well, it’s all thanks to 3D printing technology.
His new prosthetic hand, 3D printed out of biodegradable plastic and corn, allows Vibol to reach out and hold the nearest object to him by simply moving his shoulders. He can even go as far as using it for writing. “It’s the first time I’ve had a hand like this, I feel like I was born again” Vibol said.
Vibol is one of the 25 lucky beneficiaries of the collaboration project between Canadian NGO Victoria Hand Project and ARC Hub PNH, a Cambodian 3D-printing startup. The Victoria Hand Project designed the prosthetics, while ARC Hub PNH produced it. One hand takes 40 hours to print and assemble, but only costs $320, which is significantly cheaper than most prosthetics.
In an interview, Cambodian-American co-founder of ARC Hub PNH Ki How Tran said that the startup’s pilot project is to create 3D printed medical devices. “When I started ARC Hub PNH, it was difficult figuring out the best way to utilize 3D printing. You have this technology that can create countless things, but what do you create? What’s something that will show people the potential of 3D printing and help them understand how beneficial it can be? As time went on, I saw news about kids 3D printing prosthetics for kids, and it became clear to me what we should focus on: prosthetics and education,” he explains
Source: Tech in Asia
The company was founded in 2013, when Tran moved back to Cambodia from LA, California. ARC Hub is the first and only 3D printing company in Cambodia. Tran had always had a passion for creating and designing things, so when his brother Ki Chong had sent him an article about 3D printed plane parts, he immediately saw its potential.
“We realized how this new innovative technology could revolutionize the way the world makes things, but we were saddened that it most likely wouldn’t be available in Cambodia for a long time,” said Tran.
Being frustrated as to how developing countries like Cambodia always have to struggle catching up with the rest of the world, the Tran brothers decided to take the initiative and put Cambodia in the forefront of technology for once. “We decided to form a 3D printing business that would allow Cambodians to learn, make use of, and be the leaders in 3D printing,” shares Tran.