Young Spanish engineer is changing lives in Africa with 3D printed prosthetics


As three-dimensional (3D) printing becomes a more accessible and affordable, this technology is being more widely used to benefit people from deprived communities and remote regions across the world.

24 year old Guillermo Martínez has been putting 3D printing processes to charitable practice creating 3D printed prosthetic limbs for those who can’t afford to buy them.   

When Guillermo Martínez finished his degree in industrial engineering, he decided to put his talents to the greater good by volunteering to support those living in impoverished countries. 

When volunteering with Bamba Project, an orphanage in Kenya, Martínez realised his technical skills could help improve the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Through being involved in the Bamba Project, Martínez came into contact with numerous orphans who were in need of prosthetic limbs. It was as a result of this experience that he came up with the idea of building 3D prosthetic limbs on a mass scale, to expand access to this type of technology to those who simply could not afford it. He created different designs based on whether the prosthetics were aimed at people with or without an elbow or wrist.

The young engineer started testing prototype prostheses using a 3D printer that he bought for less than 150 euros. He learnt how to build the prostheses using YouTube video tutorials on constructing robots and other functional devices. 

In the summer of 2017 Martínez travelled to Kenya with several prostheses disassembled in his suitcase, this was the beginning of what became the Ayúdame3D project. The purpose of Ayúdame3D is to give amputees from deprived socio-economic backgrounds access to 3D printing technology. Ayúdame3D manufactures prostheses that can be sent anywhere in the world.

A professional toy designer by trade, Martínez has worked across Spain, South America and Africa. He dedicates his spare time to developing prosthetics using 3D printing as part of his personal charitable mission Ayúdame3D. The young engineer keeps updated with with his beneficiaries through videos. They send footage showing how they use their prosthetic arm in everyday activities and explain how it’s helping to improve their quality of life - for example allowing them to work and live independently. This information is imperative to help Martínez continue to develop his project, Ayúdame3D to ensure the prostheses best fit the needs of those who receive them. 

In an interview Martínez explained that all he needed was a 3D printer and some templates to get his idea off the ground: "I started with Enabling The Future prosthetics (e-NABLE: a global network of volunteers using 3D printers to create prosthetic upper limb devices) to learn how to print them and assemble the prosthetics. The templates can be downloaded directly or designed using a computer program. There are 14 pieces in total, which take around 20 hours to build into the final device. Once all the pieces are printed they are joined together by hand and the mechanism is made with threads and rubbers. Velcro is used to fix and adjust them to fit the residual limb”.

Martínez was recognised for his voluntary contributions last year when he was honoured with an award for volunteering and development at the World Youth Forum in Egypt. 

The recognition gained from the forum has given Martínez’s project a boost in terms of exposure, which is vital for this project to continue to grow. He regularly gives talks and workshops on the progress the charity has made and is always looking for new collaborations and ideas.

Aside from his work with Ayúdame3D, the Madrid based engineer is also working on a project that will train children to use new technology like 3D printers. 

Donations and any collaboration enquiries can made through the Ayudame3D project website.


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