Project Unicorn: Girl 3D Prints Prosthetic Superhero Arm That Shoots Glitter

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©. Lena Pan

10-year-old Jordan Reeves designed her own custom-made sparkle canon prosthetic limb, magic ensues.

Call me inspired.

Earlier this year, a 10-year-old girl from Columbia, Missouri was invited to attend the Superhero Cyborgs program in San Francisco. When she found out she was going, Jordan Reeves was elated. "I was like, 'Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually doing this,'" she says.

The program is a workshop hosted by nonprofit KIDmob and 3-D software firm Autodesk, explains Jessice Hullinger at Fast Company. It creates a place where kids with upper-limb differences meet and work with professional engineers to design and then create prosthetics that go beyond the reach of the norm; they are given the chance to build the superhero body parts conjured up by their wildest imaginings.

"Basically, if they could design the prosthetic or body modification of their dreams in a superhero context, what would that look like?" asks Sarah O’Rourke, a senior product marketing manager with Autodesk.

Jordan was born with a left arm that ends just above the elbow. The superhero power of her dreams? An arm that shoots glitter. And thus, “Project Unicorn” was hatched: a five-barrel sparkle sprinkler that sprays a coruscating cloud.

Over five days Jordan and the other five children in the workshop worked with engineers using Autodesk’s 3-D design tools to test their prototypes. By the end of the program, Jordan had developed a working 3D-printed prototype (below).

Glitter arm

Born Just Right/YouTube/Screen capture

"For us, our interest is in getting kids familiar with taking an idea from concept to execution and learning the skills along the way to do that," says KIDmob co-director Kate Ganim. "Ideally, it’s not about the end product they end up with out of workshop; it’s more about realizing they’re not just subject to what’s available on the market. It creates this interesting closed loop system where they’re both designer and end user. That is very powerful."

While the prototype doesn’t quite deliver a villain-stopping sparkle kapow just yet – Jordan says the sparkles "just kinda spill out" – the kids all get to work with a mentor for another six months to improve their designs. Jordan’s mentor, Sam Hobish, is working on getting more oomph behind the sparkle spray. And beyond Project Unicorn, he is also helping her design a more practical arm that can perform beyond shimmer duties.

"I plan to work until we get something she really likes," Hobish says. "If that means we make new prototypes over the course of a year, I’m fine with that. I’ll keep going until someone tells me to stop."

We’ve seen 3D printing put to use in so many novel (and helpful) ways – from hermit crab shells to moon bases. And now we can add a sparkle-shooting superhero arm for a girl who can subdue evil with the tug of a string. High-tech meets rainbow-power, what could be better than that?

And you can keep up with Jordan and her family on the blog Born Just Right.

Via Fast Company