Indian American lends a helping hand to amputees, and he’s just 13!


Here’s how Arizona resident Vishakk Rajendran is doing it…

India At Large staff

A 13-year-old Indian American Boy Scout from Tucson, Arizona, has taken the initiative to create and develop low-cost 3-D printed prosthetic hands that promises to help many amputees.

Vishakk Rajendran, who became interested in working with a 3-D printer during a Boy Scout merit badge day, didn’t take long before he learned how to use the equipment. While learning about the 3-D printer, he discovered e-NABLE, which is an organization that develops prosthetics.

The two have now partnered on developing 3-D printed prosthetic hands, and Rajendran has started a Tucson chapter of the organization to help more people around the world and teach people about the uses of 3-D printing.

The teen explained how 3-D printed prosthetics works.

“First we make the model of the hand pieces using a CAD software. Then we use a different software on the computer in order to change the model from an ‘stl’ file to a ‘g-code,’” the Boy Scout told India-West.

“This software will slice the model into layers and it will write instructions for the 3-D printer on how to print the object.

“Then we put this file onto an SD card and insert it into the 3-D printer. Once we have all of the pieces printed, we assemble the hand by fitting together the pieces and then tying the cords onto the hand,” Rajendran explained.

“These cords act like tendons that attach to the fingers in order to make them bend,” he added. “There are elastic cords that run along the top of the hand in order to hold the fingers up. There are inelastic cords that run along the bottom of the hand that attach to the gauntlet of the hand. This way, the fingers will bend when the user bends their wrist.”

Many prosthetic hands currently offered can cost upwards of $5,000, and prosthetic arms can reach prices around $20,000. What Rajendran has accomplished in the 3-D prosthetic hands costs about $40 to make.

And he isn’t taking any money in return for his product. Instead, he said, “we donate them free … to anyone who needs a prosthetic hand or can’t afford one. We ship them both locally and globally.”

In order to make the prosthetics, Rajendran introduced his Boy Scout troop as to how to do the work as part of his Eagle Scout service projects. He trained the Scouts and other friends at his school on the assembly of the hands.

Additionally, he hosted an event Feb. 13 where roughly 70 people helped assemble the 3-D printed prosthetic hands, helped by his previously-trained Boy Scouts. A couple dozen hands were made at the event.

The hands, which he prints at home using a 3-D printer his family purchased for $1,200, were donated by a 3-D printing company, STAX3D. Rajendran added he also buys the screws, cords and tools needed for assembly. The cost of everything, he told India-West, was met through fundraising, which his Boy Scout troops helped reach.

Rajendran, whose parents are originally from Tamil Nadu, said he is also working with STAX to print the hands and educate people on 3-D printing.

While he hasn’t spoken with anyone who has received the 3-D printed prosthetic hand, he has spoken to others about the use of prosthetic hands, who have told him that the hands they received instill a confidence they previously lacked. That knowledge, he said, provides him with the motivation to continue making his 3-D printed versions.

His father, Rajendran Subramaniam, has helped – along with e-NABLE and STAX – Rajendran get his project off the ground. The results of his son’s work have filled him with pride.

“I am very proud of what he has accomplished,” he told India-West. “I was able to recollect his essay he wrote about his experience when he met a person who was using a prosthetic device when he was in sixth grade,” Subramaniam recalled.

Going forward, the Boy Scout’s father hopes he continues to follow the path he’s on.

“It is nice to see he had pursued his interest in a way that he is able to help others,” he added. “I would like him to continue to do this good work.”


Pics courtesy:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s