Alex, a seven-year old boy who loves superheroes and riding his bike, was born with a partially developed right arm. Normally the process to develop a bionic prosthetic for him would result in a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars. Thanks to Albert Manero II, with the help of a 3d printer, the cost can be reduced to about one percent of that. Albert Manero is the Executive Director of Limbitless Solutions, a growing engineering community devoted to changing lives through the innovation of new bionic arm designs. Their mission is to create a world without limits, where everyone has access to the tools necessary to manufacture simple, affordable, and accessible solutions through open source design and 3D printing. They aim to lead by example, pushing the limits of ingenuity by synthesizing engineering principles with natural anatomy in an effort to replicate the human form in printed plastic. More than 40 hours of designing, building, and painting went into the production of this particular bionic appendage. This may seem like a cut and dry story about a donation to a child in need, but this is where it takes a turn as Robert Downey, Jr. gets involved. As is true with anything that has Robert Downey, Jr.’s name attached, things are going to become a little more colorful. Watch below as Albert Manero II and Robert Downey, Jr. give Alex the surprise of a lifetime and find out what makes this bionic arm truly one of a kind.
Alex says, “Each one looks the same.” To which Robert Downey, Jr. responds, “Actually, I think yours might be better than mine. What do you say, we both try one on and do a progress report.” Downey shows such class in utilizing his star power to bring a smile and an amazing gift to a young boy that was born without a limb that so many of us take for granted. It really made my day to see someone with such fame and fortune, a star like RDJ can still be a little shocked when a seven-year old knows both his character and his real name.