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Michael Peirone, the chief operating officer on the left, and Nick Dechev, the Executive Director, outside the Victoria Hand Project lab and office at the University of Victoria on March 19, 2020.James MacDonald/The Globe and Mail

Off the ring road that arcs its way through the University of Victoria campus, in a nondescript engineering lab, a 3-D printer whirs and buzzes away. Laying down layer after layer, the filament slowly forms a component that may some day change an amputee’s life.

The Victoria Hand Project, located on the University of Victoria campus, designs, engineers, and produces low-cost, 3-D-printed upper-limb prosthetics for people in countries around the world where prosthetic development and care can be costly and difficult to access, especially in remote and underserved communities. Through partnerships with health care providers in Guatemala, Cambodia, Nepal, Haiti, Ecuador, Egypt, Uganda, and Kenya, the project focuses on in-country printing, production, and the assembly of prosthetics to make them more affordable to a broader range of patients.

Since 2015 Nick Dechev, the executive director of the Victoria Hand Project, has designed, engineered, and re-engineered multiple hand and limb configurations. His work has involved testing plastics, 3-D printers, tensile strength, assembly, and final paint colouration.

Recently granted $1-million in funding, the Victoria Hand Project will now be setting its sights on underinsured or non-insured patients in the United States who cannot afford prosthetics, and those in Canada, who live in remote communities.

The full range of prothetic models going from left to right. The blue limb was the first design and one of the first to be tested in the field in Guatemala.James MacDonald/The Globe and Mail

The two Ultimaker2 3D printers that are used in the Victoria Hand Project office to print off parts and material to test, engineer and develop new designs and concepts for the prosthetic hands and arms.James MacDonald/The Globe and Mail

The 3D model of the current hand design on the main computer screen in the Victoria Hand Projects lab and office at the University of Victoria.James MacDonald/The Globe and Mail

Michael Peirone works to put together a portion of a finger joint used in the prosthetic hand.James MacDonald/The Globe and Mail

Different iterations and design models for the hand prothetic in the Victoria Hand Project office at the University of Victoria.James MacDonald/The Globe and Mail

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