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A child with her new hand. Screen Grab from Enabling The Future.

What if you couldn’t pick up that coffee you’re drinking while reading this post?

Technology has made some amazing advances. Three dimensional printing technology is something that’s revolutionizing manufacturing, and providing and opportunity for more people to make things themselves. One of those opportunities will be at an event called Penguicon April 24-26 at the Westin Hotel in Southfield.

Here’s a little background, for the uninitiated. Penguicon isn’t your average convention like you’d think about in a business sense, and this isn’t your average ask. It’s far more interesting.

Penguicon is a three-day event where more than 1,300 attendees learn from each other (as well as from their featured guests) about hacking, building sci-fi universes, soldering, painting miniatures, gaming, coding, music, incredible costumes, and more. Their two main focus areas are science fiction and open source, but many diverse and self-described “nerdy” influences are brought to the table as well.

Nuri Gocay, one of the organizers, actually moved to Detroit from Manhattan with his wife to help pull this convention together.

“Penguicon is kind of an ‘All-you-can-eat’ for any kind of nerd interests, so whether you’re into programming or hacking, or food, or beer, or whiskey, we’ve kind of got it all,” says Gocay. “I love Penguicon. I actually moved here from New York City to be a part of it and I haven’t turned back.”

So where do the 3D printers come in? Basically, the ask is for 3D printers to help create prosthetics for local children. They’re working with a group named “Enabling The Future” to help pull it off.

“We’re going to be fitting local children for prosthetics and using an open sourced arm template to print it for them,” said Gocay. “The prosthetic will be free to the children. The design is open source, and the materials cost (approximately $30) will be donated by members of the Penguicon Community (or Penguicon itself).”

They’re looking for volunteers to either print the parts prior to the event or bring printers (they can also work out transportation logistic) so they can print them during the event. The hands, specifically for those who have wrists but no fingers or elbows with no wrists/hands, provide the ability to do some basic tasks and add to the quality of life. Of course, a child won’t be able to hang off the monkey bars at school with this… but they will be able to pick up a cup.

It looks like fun and doing good work at the same time. For more information, visit the Penguicon site here.

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