Gallery: 17-Year-Old Creates a 3D-Printed Robotic Prosthetic Arm for $2...

Easton LaChappelle shows off an earlier version of his robotic arm. [via Popular Science]

Easton LaChappelle shows off an earlier version of his robotic arm [via Popular Science]

Combining a Nintendo Power Glove with 3D-printed parts, 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle has designed an incredible robotic prosthetic arm. Made from LEGO bricks, fishing wire, and surgical tubing, LaChapelle’s robotic arm earned him 3rd place in the Colorado Science Fair of 2011 – which inspired him to go even further with the 3D-printed design.

At the Science Fair, LaChapelle encountered an entrant who wore an $80,000 prosthetic arm that would need replacing as she grew. Inspired and intrigued, he decided to take his homemade robotic arm, which could only grip a soda can, to the next level. His new goal was to create a high-tech prosthetic arm that was not only highly functional, but also affordable.

LaChapelle’s new design relies on 3D printing to help offset the high costs of prosthetic technology. The affordable arm is controlled by a Teensy Arduini microcontroller, amplifier circuits and Bluetooth receivers. Movement works by flexing muscles then blinking the eyes to coincide with assigned tasks like hand, elbow or arm flexing, monitored by an EEG headset to control movements by measuring brainwaves.

The parts are all 3D printed using a Printbot aside from the gears, motors and screws, with a total cost of a shocking $250! The astonishing price will make the prostheses available to lower income families, as well as an array of other uses, from bomb disarming to serving beer, as Heineken has already asked the teen to produce 5,000 to serve beer in their bars.

To help amp up production, LaChapelle has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds while he finishes highschool.



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  1. Victoria Pecsenye March 5, 2015 at 3:00 am


  2. November 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    How could I find out information to possibly buy one of these for a 12 year old boy who will have to amputate his arm bc of cancer this week. He lives in Spain.

  3. gurka June 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Hey! This is an amazing project. Im writing from Chile, and i see that you reached your goal in Kickstarter, Congrats!
    My question is…will the design be open source?

  4. chrisc March 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Everyone the Kickstarter is now live here

  5. sascharch February 23, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Do you currently have a kickstarter campaign up? And if so how do I find it? I work for a Prosthetic Firm in South Africa and we are always looking for more cost-effective ways to make prosthetics that are more readily accessible/affordable for those that can’t afford them. Great job, super impressed!

  6. Jamie Montgomery February 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Who got first place? Aside from that girl who sent her hello kitty doll to space, I can’t think of anything more awesome than this for a high school science fair.

  7. John Davis February 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    this is badass…. i want one

  8. chrisc February 14, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Hi Luke. The Kickstarter project isn’t live yet, but we’re working on getting the video done. I’m Chris Chappell and I’ve been working with Easton on this project. I’ve been designing the 3D printed parts. More info can be found at

  9. Luke Woolley February 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Where’s the Kickstarter link? I’m not finding the project.

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