Ayúdame 3D is a Spanish organisation that, thanks to 3D printing technology, helps vulnerable groups around the world. It carries out technological-social programmes in schools and companies and turns its profits into the manufacture of arms printed with 3D printing technology called trésdesis, in addition to other types of support that it provides free of charge to people with disabilities. These aids reduce the inequality people face, improve their quality of life and provide better opportunities for employability and schooling.
There are 100 million people in the world without limbs; 83 million of them cannot afford anything that would help them in their daily lives to carry out basic activities. In this context, Ayúdame 3D has developed trésdesis, 3D printed arms, which are provided completely free of charge and which aim to help the people who receive them with everyday tasks, thereby reducing the inequality they face. The aim is to improve their quality of life and provide them with better opportunities for employability and schooling. In addition to this device, Ayúdame 3D has also developed other assistive devices for people with disabilities and vulnerable groups, such as pill dispensers for people with Parkinson’s disease or facial screens for COVID-19. Although the devices have a simple mechanical operation, access to training and the necessary tools to develop them using 3D printing is not available to most of the population, especially in developing countries. Therefore, this project seeks to establish 3Dlabs that empower local communities and enable them to meet the demand for assistive devices, both in the local and regional community in which they live autonomously. This, in turn, empowers the people with disabilities who receive these devices, who, in most cases, are unable to access them due to their high cost.
Ayúsame 3D created the first of these technological classrooms in the Rift Valley (Kenya), specifically in the Bamba orphanage, in February 2020. This 3Dlab is run by two students from the area – Nelson and Lidia – and due to the context of its creation – right at the beginning of the pandemic – it has served to manufacture and distribute COVID protection screens, as well as the threesdesis that are in demand throughout the country.
Technical details & Operations
Ayúsame 3D uses 3D printing technology to offer solutions to people with disabilities or vulnerable groups all over the world. In the case of the trésdesis, 3D printed arms, the operation is simple, but 100% functional.
A trésdesis is a 3D printed arm with prehensile mobility that can be moved thanks to the joint that each person has (wrist, elbow, shoulder). It is manufactured in a personalised way, taking into account a series of specific measurements that make each device unique and 100% adapted to the person who receives it. There are currently three types of trésdesis: the Nelly trésdesis (for people with a wrist), the Mery trésdesis (for people with an elbow) and the Vicky trésdesis (for people without an elbow). The mechanism of all types is similar: with the natural joint movement of the person, a mechanism of nylon threads is activated which makes the fingers close with force and when this movement is unwound, rubber bands return the fingers to their initial position. Ayúdame 3D is also developing other types of trésdesis or adaptations for different activities (riding a bike, holding a guide dog harness, lifting weights…).
The trésdesis are printed by additive manufacturing and the material used is PLA (from natural resources such as corn starch) or recovered PLA (which gives a second life to plastic). After a quality control of the functioning and correct modelling, they are finished with biocompatible materials.
Ayúdame 3D also makes other types of 3D printed aids that meet the needs of different vulnerable groups and improve their quality of life: protective screens against COVID-19, boxes to cover the chemotherapy bags of children in hospitals (Chemobox) or pillboxes for people with Parkinson’s disease.
All these aids are delivered free of charge to people who need them in every corner of the world.
Deployment & Impact
This project arose spontaneously when Guillermo M. Gauna-Vivas, a young engineer, decided to go to Kenya in 2017 to volunteer at an orphanage. At the same time, he was getting started in the world of 3D printing and decided to take advantage of this volunteering to bring with him five arms that he had printed and that he considered could help several people he had previously contacted and who were suffering from various amputations. The experience turned out to be a complete success: the lives of these people changed radically. On returning to Spain, Guillermo realised the potential of the idea and the opportunity to continue helping people all over the world. He therefore decided to found Ayúdame 3D, with the motivation to use technology to improve people’s lives.
Although the trésdesis models for people with wrist and elbow were based on the original Enabling The Future models, Ayúdame 3D introduced a major innovation in the world of 3D printed prostheses: the trésdesis for people without elbow, being the first 3D, prehensile arm that does not need electronics. After years of development and research, the new models have been adapted and developed by Ayúdame 3D to be 100% personalised and functional for each person who receives them. This project began in Kenya by distributing 5 trésdesis in one year. Currently, the entity delivers more than 300 assistive devices per year in more than 50 countries around the world.
Ayúdame 3D has been recognised with various awards such as the 2020 Princess of Girona Social Award, the 2021 Red Cross Humanitarian Technology of Impact Award, the 2021 FONCE Discapnet Award for Entrepreneurship, the 2021 Fenin Volunteers Award for Social and Health Institution, the 2020 Javier Pancorbo EY National Award, the 2019 Inspiring Volunteering Award from Fundación Telefónica, the 2019 Sustainable Development Award – Committed Optimists Awards, and the 2019 Social Innovation Award from the Egypt World Youth Forum.