3D printed prosthetic arms and hands

by Bolivians Without Disabilities
3D printed prosthetic arms and hands
3D printed prosthetic arms and hands
3D printed prosthetic arms and hands
3D printed prosthetic arms and hands

Mateo is a young 28-year-old Bolivian male from Beni (Warnes). His left forearm was amputated after Mateo suffered a labor accident. He was a daily worker without a formal contract and one day, as a consequence of technical negligence, he slipped into the soybean conveyor which trapped his arm, destroying it completely.

Mateo does not own a freezer to store food, which shows that his resources are limited. Furthermore, we believe that Mateo could be far happier and more productive in his household with a prosthesis, which he could never afford without Bolivians Without Disabilities’ support.

Mateo studied until secondary school and worked as an industrial mechanic before his accident. Now, his life partner is supporting both of them, earning just enough to live thanks to her job as a soft drinks seller. Neither of them has parents or children, which made the tragedy even more difficult to overcome.

After receiving the prosthesis, Mateo wants to go back to work. He needs a prosthesis that would be both functional and aesthetic. For the moment, he is not working anymore and feels powerless. He explains in his initial evaluation:

“My life changed completely. I can’t work anymore, I can’t do anything.”

Bolivians Without Disabilities paid for an arm and cosmetic hand to be made for Mateo. He was very impressed by the realism of his new hand, when he received his prosthesis, he said:

“I’m going to show it off, now I’m going to walk down the street with more confidence. I will stop hiding my arm because I always had it covered with something. You know, people are very mean, they used to stare at me and the most important thing is that I will be able to look for a job with more confidence.”

He also had a special message for Bolivians Without Disabilities: “Thank you very much, may God bless you and may you continue to help people who need support.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

When Pablo was 25 years old, he worked as a farmhand, and he also had a job as a security guard. One sad day Pablo was badly injured by a horrible dynamic explosion.

The morning before the accident, on a fun-filled Saturday afternoon, Pablo was swimming in a local river with his friends. When they were preparing to go home, they noticed an object on the ground that looked like a large firework (like a US "M80" firework). Pablo, accepting a dare from his friends, decided to light it to see what would happen. Unfortunately, the "firecracker" turned out to be dynamite. In Bolivian dynamite is very commonly used for many things - not just for mining, but also for fishing, and other reasons. It is also very unstable since it is often "home-made".

The fuse burned too fast and it went off suddenly, blowing Pablo's hands off. His friends feared he was dead due to all the blood on his hands, chest, and face, and they ran away.

Luckily, hours later, two women who were passing, noticed him and called the police. He was then taken to a local hospital. But to pay the bills, his family had to sell their cows, which were their main sources of income. In the end, Pablo lost not only his right hand and arm but also his left had to be amputated. And further, the explosive blast also damaged his eyes.

However, despite the devastating effects of the explosion, Pablo and his family still have hope for his future when he can get two prosthetic arms. Bolivians With disAbilities, working with CreoBolivia, has been able to provide both arms to Pablo.

Your donations can help many more amputees like Pablo.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
As a young boy, before the accident
As a young boy, before the accident

Carlos had an accident at his home in 2010 when he was only 10 years old. This caused a fracture in the palm of his left hand. He had surgery, but due to medical negligence, a severe infection occurred, which made the amputation of almost the complete arm unavoidable. Carlos's family (most of all the mother) went to the media and authorities to receive help, but nothing could be done to prevent amputation and / or hold anyone responsible.

Carlos has 3 brothers, 2 older sisters, and one younger sister. He currently lives with his parents and his younger sister in a small house in a peripheral area of the city of La Paz. In 2018, the bank finally granted the family a loan to add an extra room to the house for Carlos.

The only income of the family comes from the job of the father, who works as a taxi driver. This modest income is used to feed and dress the 4 members of the family, finance the daughter’s and Carlos’s education, and to pay back their debt the bank.

Carlos's mother heard about our foundation via a chance encounter with a stranger. With great excitement and optimism, she diligently contacted CreoTec to organize a first assessment appointment. Based on that assessment, it was determined that Carlos needed a full arm prosthesis since he only had part of the humerus bone that comes out of the shoulder. It was very unfortunate that the amputation was apparently performed without sufficient knowledge, or care for the patient. The exact location of the amputation could have been different and this poor choice made the new prosthetic limb more difficult to use.

During the following 3 weeks, a prosthetic limb was manufactured by Roly Mamani and Juan Carlos Mamani in their Bolivian workshop using 3D Printer, Robotic Technics, sewing work for the harness. The manufacturing process included two test sessions during the month to try and improve the prosthesis. The manufactured solution is a prosthesis that includes the replacement of the humerus bone or arm, the elbow, the forearm, the wrist, and the hand. These pieces were finished with 3D printing with a PLA filament material. They were then joined by mechanical, metal and carbon fiber. Since Carlos doesn’t have his elbow to command movements to close and open fingers, a small motor had to be added on the forearm to make the arm functional. All parts of the prosthesis were made in the workshop with our own designs and improvements.

On August 1st, the last tests were done and the final prosthesis was delivered to Carlos. These were Carlos's words after he received his prosthesis.

“I thank the Creo Bolivia Foundation, Roly, Juan Carlos and Bolivians Without Disabilities for the help they are giving me. Now I can walk down the street with more confidence and others will not look at me like I am a frea. I am very happy for this help”

Now Carlos dreams of studying law at the public University and hopes to help others in need.


This patient's name has been changed to protect his identity.

Bolivians Without Disabilities works with the organization “CreoTec”, which is located in La Paz Bolivia. CreoTec evaluates all patients, fabricates the prostheses using 3D printer technology, and then teaches the patients how to use their new limbs.

If you would like to help more Bolivian amputees like this one, then please donate now.

Wearing new arm
Wearing new arm
After arm loss - during evaluation process
After arm loss - during evaluation process
The 3D printed prosthetic limb.
The 3D printed prosthetic limb.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

About Project Reports

Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you can recieve an email when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports without donating.

Sign up for updates

Organization Information

Bolivians Without Disabilities

Location: melbourne, FL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Bolivians_Disab
Project Leader:
matthew pepe
Indn Hbr Bch , FL United States
$370 raised of $15,000 goal
8 donations
$14,630 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Bolivians Without Disabilities has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Get incredible stories, promotions, and matching offers in your inbox

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.