One of the most practical and worthy applications of 3D printing technology in the last couple of years has been the Robohand Project.

The Atlanta-based organization which produces affordable prosthetics for people in need was originally created by Richard Van As and Ivan Owen, and since their launch, the Robohand charity has provided hundreds of people with 3D printed prosthetic hands, fingers and limbs, but there are still many more people in need worldwide.

Enter Airwolf 3D and their 3D Printing Robohand Flash Mob initiative.

Airwolf 3D is teaming up with Robohand US to make the holidays that much more festive this season, and in the bargain, they plan to make history as part of the world's largest 3D printer farm aimed at using 3D printing skills to change lives for the better.

"When we looked at this project, we realized it was a perfect fit with what we do," says Erick Wolf, cofounder and chairman of Airwolf 3D. "The high speed, high materials capabilities of our printers make us uniquely suited for the demands of this type of work. We're not making toys, but real, functional prosthetics that require lightweight, durable materials. We want a child using one of these hands to be able to be able to play without worrying about it breaking."

Robohand printing on an Airwolf 3D printer

To make it happen, Airwolf 3D has a plan to disperse G-code to 3D printers everywhere and engage a mass production engine to create these amazing devices.

Airwolf is inviting California residents to bring their 3D printers to the company's Costa Mesa headquarters at noon on Saturday, December 13. Those volunteers will be asked to 3D print a Robohand while the 100 in-house printers on site will be cranking out Robohands.


If you're not local to the California area, Airwolf says Makers nationwide can be part of the first 3D Printing Flash Print/Flash Mob project by downloading the necessary G-code to print a Robohand at their own location.

And if you don't have a 3D printer you can still contribute to this important project by donating $25 for a roll of filament. If you make that donation, Airwolf 3D will print up to five Robohands in your name for distribution to those in need.

Starting at 5:00 PM on Friday, December 12, Airwolf 3D volunteers plan to begin a 24-hour, non-stop 3D printing session to output the open-source prosthetic hands, and by noon the next day, the event will be opened to the public.

If you happen to take part locally, you'll also be part of a combined effort to break the world record of simultaneous 3D printing in one location. The existing record stands at 102 printers, and Airwolf says that record is well within reach.

Wolf says he believes "hundreds of prosthetic hands will be 3D printed in the 24 hour period."

Tyler Caros, the Creative Director of Airwolf 3D, says this project will mark the first time in history this sort of movement has been a possibility.

"We're uniting people the world over to work toward this common goal, and it's 3D printing technology that makes it possible," Caros said. "With $5 of materials – and a few hours – you can dramatically change someone's life. You can sit in your home thousands of miles away, click print, and create a tangible object that will open up an entirely new world to someone. It really is a thrilling idea."