Iron Man and The Avengers star Robert Downey Jr. continues to put his superhero status to good use. Recently the actor, posing as robotics expert Tony Stark, presented a seven-year-old boy named Alex with a partially developed arm his very own Iron Man-inspired 3D-printed bionic arm.
The arm was created by a college student named Albert Manero, another real-life superhero, who heard about a man who had created a 3D-printed mechanical hand and decided he needed to be a part of it. He’s been doing great, truly inspirational work ever since, building and donating low-cost 3D-printed bionic limbs to kids all around the world.
You can read more, see videos of Downey Jr. presenting the arm to Alex and the work Albert is doing, and find out how you can get involved below.
Downey Jr. shared the video seen below, saying:
Had the absolute privilege of presenting a brand spanking new 3D-printed bionic Iron Man arm to Alex, the most dapper 7-year-old I’ve ever met.
“My parents always encouraged me to use my education to help others and to dream big dreams. Now I want to inspire others to help engineer hope for the world.” – Albert Manero
Education: Graduate of the University of Central Florida ’12, ’14 in Aerospace Engineering. Currently pursuing a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering.
Dream Job: Designing space planes
Inspiration: In 2013 I heard an interview on the radio on my way to work featuring Ivan Owen and Richard Van As’s work with 3D printed hands. In elementary school I knew a classmate who had a hand condition and I remembered their determination and strength. Ivan’s work resonated with me, and I knew I had to be a part of it.
When Alex’s family first contacted me about developing something for their son, I reached out to my friends and rallied a group to make this dream a reality.
Our group saved our coffee money and paid for the design out of pocket. We were all bound to the belief that no one should profit from a child in need of an arm.
In March I was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship to Germany. Following my graduation and wedding in May 2014, we started work for Alex’s arm. My flight to Germany had been booked for August 1st—so we knew we had to hurry. We finished Alex’s arm just in time, and less than a week later I hopped on a plane to Frankfurt, Germany.
But our team did not stop there. We kept refining the design, and looking to help more children in need. The team in Orlando drove through the night to deliver an arm to a young girl named Madelyn the day before Thanksgiving!
We knew we wanted something special for Alex’s first upgrade–and he found it under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Alex’s reaction made all of the hard work worth it.
Being in Germany has been an incredible experience. I’m continuing my aerospace research at the German Aerospace Center—and am really enjoying the opportunity to learn from some of the best scientists in the field.
Each day is a new opportunity to continue my education and learn more about the culture —and how to innovate globally.
I am excited to share our project with you, and I hope you will take a look through our OneNote and find a way you can help design hope for others in need. We will change the world, together.
You can learn more about this and more about some of the kids’ stories at 3D Hope, and there’s a Tumblr page for The Collective Project to visit for more.
If you have no money to offer, but do have artistic and creative talents you’d like to use to help create new design ideas for these arms, you can do so over at the OneNote Online website in the “Get Involved From Anywhere” section.