Kids Help Make Prosthetic Hand at Downtown Library

Brothers, 9 and 12 years old, develop prosthetic hand using a 3D printer

You can still check out books and access the internet inside the downtown library, but as a lucky patron recently found out, you can also get a prosthetic hand.

Nick Sissakis, 39, took his kids to the library a few months back and stumbled upon the “innovation lab”, a creative and collaborative third floor space where tech-savvy librarians work with community members to make stuff.

Sissakis, born without his right hand, presented the innovators with an interesting challenge. Could they use their 3-D printers to make a prosthetic hand? The answer over the last few months turned into a resounding yes, but not without the critical involvement of two regulars from Escondido.

Calexis and Calramon Mabalot are brothers and business partners. They’re also 12 and nine-years old respectively. Last year they watched the movie “Big Hero 6” and became inspired to build their own 3-D printer.

It took them four days.

Now, they have clients all over the world and the largest 3D printing hub in Escondido, but Sissakis is their 1st prosthetic customer and 1st customer from the library’s innovation lab.

“We wanted to know more about it” said Calexis, “because we really started our business to learn”.

Using 3D scanners, the brothers and lab staff fitted Sissakis's arm and over the next few months inched closer to a working prototype.

Last week the team experienced a huge breakthrough when he tried on the hand and grabbed a bottle of water.

“Last week was the absolute 1st time I’ve ever picked something up and the rush of emotions through me was amazing” said Sissakis.

Eight-year old Calramon described the experience with a different word.

“It made me feel great because we were using the habit of synergizing."

The synergy between the library staff, Sissakis and the Mabalot brothers resulted in a working prosthetic hand, made pennies on the dollar compared to the real world price, which is why Sissakis hasn't had one until now.

"The prosthetic that I was looking at purchasing in the past was $60,000. Insurance companies refuse to pay that, you'd have to crowd-source to get it," Sissakis said.

Now the brothers want to make it better, allowing him to use his cell phone or an iPad.

“Every couple hours, I'm finding a new way to use it" said Sissakis.

Today, he can do more than just carry grocery bags and pick up tools, he can actually hold his daughter's hand, with both of his.

It’s amazing what you can find inside a library these days.

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