The RobotEl (Robot Hand) Platform in Turkey offers robotic arms to children who have lost their limbs in the war in Syria, or who were born with malformed arms or hands. Some 700 volunteers work with the platform, which has so far provided 25 children with advanced technology robotic limbs.
The Turkish platform grew out of the "Enabling the Future" association, which emerged after South African carpenter Richard Van As lost his figure during a job. Enabling the Future grew into a platform aiming to help children with malformed limbs live a more comfortable life.
RobotEl has developed as a social impact project in Turkey and officially became a non-profit organization in 2016. The association uses 3D printing technology to create robotic hands for children who were born with physical conditions, but is now preparing a project that will specifically help children who have lost limbs in the Syrian crisis.
Founded by architect Zeynep Karagöz, mechanical engineer Hakan Pektan and their friends, RobotEl now has more than 700 volunteers and 80 3D printers to meet the needs of the association.
Karagöz explained that she thought of the idea around three years ago, while searching for projects that show the usefulness of 3D printers and how they can touch human lives. "When we met this community, we said 'that's it.' That's a perfect example of how 3D printers can touch human lives," she said.
She explained that first measurements and photographs are taken of the child's arm and then they move on to a modeling stage. Using 3D technology, one of the robotic models is selected and adapted to the size and anatomy needed to fit a particular child.
No surgical procedures are necessary to use the robotic hands. Once fitted with the prosthetic, the children are able to move the wrist or elbow, and fingers are even able to close into a grip.