The Creation of Project Daniel
Project Daniel started with an article in
Time magazine about Daniel Omar, a boy
in Sudan who had both of his arms blown
off by a bomb. He was just 14 years old
when he lost his arms and became one of
50,000 amputees in the region.
Mick Ebeling, CEO and founder of the
Venice, Calif.-based healthcare humanitarian technology group Not Impossible
Labs, read the article and knew he wanted
to help. He hoped to provide Daniel and
others like him with 3-D-printed prostheses to vastly enhance their quality of life.
During the course of a few short
months, the idea quickly moved from concept to reality. Volunteers were recruited
and financial support was raised for the
endeavor, dubbed Project Daniel, and the
team went to work designing the Daniel
Arm. Following some DFM principles, the
team modified an existing design, located
Daniel in a village in the South Sudan
Nuba Mountains and fitted him with a
functional prosthetic arm. To further the
mission, the team also set up a special onsite printing and training facility to help
fit additional amputees with 3-D-printed
The project has been a huge success:
Barring exceptional war conditions, the fa-
cility has provided an average of one arm
per week to children who need them.
Assembling a Team
The first step involved a gathering of volunteers for an intensive“maker weekend”
at Not Impossible headquarters. This facilitated the collaboration of some of the
most knowledgeable people in related
fields, including Richard Van As, inventor
of the Robohand, who flew from South
Africa to help alter his prosthetic hand
design to fit the needs of Project Daniel. I
volunteered representing Precipart, which
provided engineering and financial support throughout the project.
Other volunteers included an Australian neuroscientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the owner
of a 3-D printer company from California,
and an American doctor working in Sudan
(who spoke with the group at Not Impossible via Skype). Additional contributors
specialized in such varied fields as design,
3-D printing and physical therapy. The
weekend even had a coffee sponsor to
keep everyone fueled.
As a quality systems engineer, I was excited for the chance to provide engineering experience that could be applied to an
altruistic and unconventional endeavor.
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As part of a basic design-for-manufacturability approach, all aspects of the project were considered
at the beginning. The team paid attention to details such as costs, supplies, electrical capabilities in
the village, and environmental conditions to ensure the arm’s blueprint was practical to make and
use in the specific conditions. Photo courtesy of Precipart.