A unique community project is giving amputees a helping hand.

In what is believed to be a world first, not-for-profit charity Envision has paired up with Rotary to deliver the Helping Hands project, which turns recycled plastic bottle caps into prosthetic hands and arms.

Using a $300 3D printer and a handmade machine that turns bottle caps into filament, the team can custom-make a hand that allows the wearer to undertake basic tasks such as picking up a cup or holding a fork.

The team is keen to create 100 of these prosthetic limbs for kids in disadvantaged communities throughout Cambodia and other Third World countries – but first, they need people to donate as many plastic bottle caps as they can.

The project is using an $18,000 Wyndham council grant to get schools involved in the project, with six already signed up.

The team is also hoping to get funding through the state government’s pick my project initiative, which will allow them to buy a higher-quality 3D printer and other supplies.


Joe Ferlazzo with one of the hands. Photo by Damjan Janevski.


Joe Ferlazzo, who helped develop the prototype, said it was a cheap, simple concept that could change somebody’s life.

Mr Ferlazzo said it took about 500 grams worth of recycled bottle caps, and 40 hours of work, to create one hand.

“It’s so important for a child or adult to feel complete, and this does that,” he said.

Envision manager Sean Teer said the project also trained and mentored long-term unemployed job seekers.

To find out more or get involved, call Sean on 0413 003 795 or email sean@envisionemployment.com.au