A Bionic Arm That's Uniquely Yours

13-year old Anni was born with a partially developed right arm.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

13-year old Anni was born with a partially developed right arm. It drew stares as she was growing up, but that didn’t stop her from living an active life. She likes riding horses, kicking soccer, and playing the guitar.

If you met Anni today, you’d notice her beautiful prosthetic arm. It’s light blue and decorated with varieties of flowers. The bionic arm is uniquely hers and uniquely her.

Anni received her bionic arm from Limbitless Solutions, a non-profit organization based in the University of Central Florida. Limbitless was founded in 2014 and makes 3D-printed bionic arms for children. Unlike traditional prosthetics, which can be heavy, uncomfortable, and unattractive, Limbitless creates tailor-made prosthetics that are light, colorful, and personal.

Limbitless’ prosthetics combine 3D printing with electromyography, which records the electrical activity from muscle tissue. Electronics in the arm translate this activity into movement, allowing children to control the prosthetic. Traditional prosthetics are expensive, costing up to US$40,000. Using 3D printing reduces the costs of materials to just hundreds of dollars.

As a non-profit organization, Limbitless’ bionic arms aren’t for sale on the market. Instead, its efforts are funded by donors and philanthropists, and the prosthetic arms are given to children at no cost.