“I would never have imagined that something I made in my bedroom would be shaking hands with the President,” says 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle. However that’s precisely what occurred when LaChappelle got to visit the White House Science Fair and presented the robotic prosthetic arm that he 3D-printed and constructed in his bedroom lab.
“I’m hoping to give someone a functional prosthetic arm for under $1,000,” LaChappelle states. The self-taught teen began experimenting with robotic limbs in 2011, when he assembled his first hand out of Legos, fishing line and servo motors. Frustrated by the high price of current day prosthetics, he then sought out to develop a more affordable option for amputees.
LaChappelle built his first prototype out of electrical tubing, but for the next one, he sought out more realistic materials. “I wanted to get a more human shape,” he explains. “That’s a big thing for prosthetics is psychologically, it has to be appealing to the user and also to others.”
As a result he studied modeling software and obtained access to a 3D printer, printing unbelievably detailed components and constructing a functional prosthetic arm that interfaces with the human brain–all in his bedroom. The innovation garnered him public notice for its reduced production cost, accessibility, and functionality, and the teenage inventor even got to do his very own TED talk.
“I think a lot more people are taking notice of what he can do on a 3D printer and realize his vision of making a prosthetic arm at a very low cost,” says Patrick LaChappelle, Easton’s father.
“He’s a self-starter and he totally figured it out himself,” says Julia Whelihan, his mother. Although some moms and dads might be worried about the amount of time their teen spends alone in their room, it became quite clear to the LaChappelle’s family that Easton was hard at work on something very important. “Apparently his room has become where creativity just took off,” Whelihan laughs. “It was happening right under our nose.”
Read More at Aljazeera America