Solidarity FabLabs challenge: where are they now?

In 2017, the Mamiratra - Antananarivo FabLab in Madagascar won the Web Users’ Prize in our international Solidarity FabLabs challenge #Imake4MyCity. The theme of this digital manufacturing challenge was sport for all. The “bionic hand for pétanque” project offers a solution to Madagascans who have had their forearm amputated so they can play this Olympic sport, a real unifying social force in a country where no one can afford a prosthesis. How is the project doing now?

 

 

Where are the 6 young people who led the project now?

When we asked them about the challenge, they are proud to say “We improved our leadership thanks to an initial experience in an international competition focused on technological innovation. We were able to represent Madagascar in this challenge and measure ourselves against the other countries.”

 

 

“We realised that Madagascar can achieve the same level of technological skills as other countries. And our FabLab is also well-equipped. We grew on a personal level by becoming more open and we have gained in independence and teamwork.”

The aim of the Solidarity FabLabs is to help young people develop entrepreneurial skills related to digital technology to help them enter the world of work. The six young people who led the project have continued to receive training at the FabLab, taking part in workshops and continuing to improve their project. In this way they have completed their training to become trainers in order to share their knowledge with other young people. They have developed their abilities in 3D modelling, electronics, project management, computer skills and organisation. They have also received induction and internal communications training.
Some of the young people have left the project and they have been replaced by other young people who have finished their training at the FabLab.

 


 

Improvements in the bionic hand

In addition to the ability to use the prosthesis to play pétanque, the larger aim is to use it in daily life. They have studied and researched how to make the hand’s structure lighter so that it is easily transportable and to make the movements smoother. Modifications reducing the thickness (size of fingers, palm of the hand, etc.) by optimising the spaces where the components are located have also been carried out.

 

The mobility of the fingers has also been optimised, an opposable thumb has been added to make it easier to pick up objects. Some parts were printed using a 3D printer, while others have been ordered.
The team is waiting for electronic components and other imported parts to be able to finish integrating the tendon system and to miniaturise the components that make the hand move.

 

Search for partners

The team has visited 10 non-profits looking after people with disabilities to present the project and gain the cooperation of future beneficiaries. Among these associations, 5 centres are interested in the project as some of their residents could take advantage of the bionic hand. The aim is to raise the centres’ awareness and get them involved so that the main targets join the programme. The partnership agreements are being drawn up and evaluated: “We were able to meet institutional stakeholders working in the field of disabilities that are very interested in the project.”

And then?

The prototype of the improved bionic hand will be completed in the next few months. It will serve as a model for the development of personalised hands.

 

The FabLab will continue its search for partners and will work with the centres for people with disabilities.
The young people stress that “In the long term, the advantages of this project will be to reduce as far as possible the social discrimination experienced by people with disabilities in all areas.”

 

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