August 2015

So we’ve already heard about an adult who 3D printed a hand for a young boy, but what about a young boy who printed a hand for an adult? Calramon, his brother and his father Carlos have been working hard on a wide range of projects with their domestic 3D printer, with a particular interest in creating functional prosthetics. Based in San Diego, California, the trio print, test and play with all sorts of different contraptions they’ve created.

credit to Calramon's Twitter page

credit to Calramon’s Twitter page

Their efforts are recorded and shared via videos and photos on Calramon’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, showing various development and assembly steps in their projects, as well as general updates.

As part of an interview with Calramon, I asked him about his work on the prosthetic hand which was created for a local highschool teacher, as well as other project he, his brother and his father have been working on together.


Introduction to 3D printing and inspirations

The first thing to ask such a enthusiastic 9-year-old about such a complicated interest was obviously, what does he like about it?  It didn’t take long at all to get the response “I like learning it”. It’s incredibly important for children to enjoy what they are learning to fully engage in it and make use of a fun learning experience that’s more likely to embed in their long term memory. Calramon was particularly inspired by the film ‘Big Hero 6’, a children’s film created by disney, which features a 3D printer which created armor for one of the main characters.

He also met a designer who created a remote controlled quad copter drone, and upon learning that 3D printing was a big part of the making process, Calramon too wanted to create his own. He and his brother, Calexis, design their creations using the CAD package Rhinoceros, with the help of their father.

As well as being inspired by a range of different 3D printing applications, the Mabalot family has also inspired one of the boy’s father’s co workers to invest in their own 3D printer.


So, prosthetics?

Quad copters aren’t the only focus for Calramon and Calexis, as they want to create prosthetics as a way to learn more about them. Calramon mentioned he particularly like that he can “craft things with 3D printed parts”.

They met Nick, a high school teacher one time when doing some 3D modelling work at the library, and found out that a group of people there were trying to find a way to 3D print a prosthetic hand for him. The group in question were working as part of Enabling The Future.

Enabling The Future has created an e-NABLE community, where individuals use their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those who need such a prosthetic to aid them. The site provides access to open source designed which have been created to be improved upon and 3D printed to serve those missing fingers, either from birth, or war, disease or a natural disaster. The website stresses the importance that those within the e-NABLE community are there to “Give The World A Helping Hand”. The impact this volunteering project has had on the world has already been massive, and the community is set to grow in years to come.

After some talking, Calramon, Calexis and his dad decided they wanted to take on the challenge and create a prosthetic hand for Nick, and they quickly set to work.

The Mabalot family has a Makerbot simple metal kit, which was put together in 4 days, using only an exploded diagram. Calramon has been updating the printer every now and then, adding better parts and extra features, including a heated bed, which helps to limit warping.

The prototyping process fir the hand was done at the library, but after finding a better design to build upon, they worked with that, and then 3D printed the final version and assembled it at home. The finished product was then delivered to Nick.

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What’s the next big thing on the project list?

Calramon’s his mother, Venus, is a nurse, whilst his father, Carlos, works at Daybreak, a games company. In fact, he has a colleague who lost an arm in car accident, who the Mabalot team want to build a prosthetic arm for. The fingers will be able to move, just like in Nick’s prosthetic hand.

You’d think at such a young age, Calramon would only have been involved with 3D printing for a little while, but in fact, he’s been doing it for around a year and half. Surprisingly a while for someone who’s only 9 years old. His friends also think it’s pretty cool, he says , “they think it’s awesome, and I can make things for them”. One thing he’s printed for them is a “tiny boat”.

Dreams and the future

Whaen I alsked Calramon what he wants to do when he grows up, he replied enthausiastically with, “I want to race Detrics Quadcopters”. He then went on to show me a very small remote controlled drone with four rotors, which he uses wireless controller to steer, whilst using the mounted camera to see where the drone is going.

He also vacuum formed a body for the electronics on it, the mold was 3d printed.

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Calramon and Calexis are showing the world how 3D printing can take many forms and inspire all sorts of people. 3D printers can also be a useful tool for kickstarting a business, and they’re certainly reaping the benefits. From prosthetics to drones, the sky’s the limit, make sure to check out Calramon’s twitter to see all the latest updates from Brother Robot!