Robert Downey Jr. plays the super hero Iron Man on film, but to 7-year-old Alex he’s a real hero. In this video, Robert Downey Jr. delivers a real, 3D-printed bionic arm to Alex, who was born with a deficient right arm. Alex’s new bionic arm lets him be just like his hero, Iron Man. He can grip with new fingers and an opposable thumb. His new arm even has a light built into the palm so he can blast away bad guys just like in the movies.
Robert Downey Jr. steals the scenes in the video, but the real hero is Albert Manero whom Downey Jr. thanks at the end of the video. The limb was created by Manero who is a doctoral student and Fulbright scholar at the University of Central Florida. Manero established Limbitless Solutions volunteer group which builds affordable versions of 3D-printed bionic arms and provides them to those in need. All of Manero’s limb designs are available at no cost to those who wish to build their own bionic limbs.
The bionic arm only cost $350 USD in materials and was actually given to Alex’s family free of charge. Manero’s team at Limbitless Solutions used their donated “coffee money” to pay for the affordable, bionic arm. Other bionic limbs can cost upwards of $40,000 USD, making this 3D-printed design revolutionary.
Limbitless Solutions and their Iron Man arm are a featured in Microsoft’s The Collective Project which celebrates the work of students like Manero who are making great, positive changes in the world.