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Local man behind 3-D printed prosthetic hand — a device that costs only about $35

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BOTHELL, Wash. — Major advances in 3-D printing and design are happening right now in the Seattle area. And a puppeteer is finding his designs are helping people around the world.

“This hand I have here I`m going to send to Liam, who is actually the first kid to ever test one of these devices,” said the inventor, Ivan Owen.

It’s a device that has revolutionized prosthetics. And Owen, a puppeteer and special effects artist from Bellingham, has been at the forefront of this technology.

“They can slide their palm into this band, and when they bend their wrist it activates the fingers.”

Owen created this ‘hand’ device using a 3-D printer.

“This is all of the parts that will print out of the machine — and then they can be assembled.”

And the parts are cheap. A prosthetic hand that would normally cost thousands can be created for just $35.

“And it`s simple enough many families have already learned how to build it for their own children,” Owen said.

It started with one child, Liam, who was born without fingers on his right hand. It only took him a day to figure out how to use his new hand.

Owen continues to send him his newest models -- the latest one in Iron Man colors.

His work has led him to the University of Washington Bothell campus where he is working with students on 3-D printing and how it can be used for other applications in the medical field.

“We’re bringing together the students, the MDs, together to help invent develop and research and commercialize,” said associate professor Pierre D. Mourad.

And the sky appears to be the limit in what this technology can do. The next step -- adding sensation to these unique devices.

“We`re currently developing fingertips that have the ability to provide sensation to the user with the focus on making that a low-cost item as well,” Owen said.

Part of the reason it remains at a low cost is that Owen releases his design into the public domain, so anyone can have access to them to create their own prosthetic hand.

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