The Handy Man Can

21 June 2016

Meet Sujana Mohd Rejab, the man who single-handedly creates 3D printed prosthetic hands for children in need.

There’s no slowing down Sujana Mohd Rejab. Since we got to know about the former teacher who devotes his time to creating 3D printed prosthetic hands for children, Sujana has been busy working on creating 20 3D robotic hands to be donated to 19 disabled children in Malaysia and one in Singapore. The project, dubbed 20 Tangan 3D (20 3D Hands), is expected to be fully completed by October. At the time of writing, Sujana has given out three of the 20 robotic 3D hands so far – adding to the over 200 3D printed manual prosthetic limbs he’s already donated in the past.

Based in Taiping, Perak, Sujana is the main man behind MyVista, which specialises in 3D printers and T-shirt printing on the side. Although he has no formal qualifications in robotics and engineering, Sujana’s computer programming background and keen interest in sci-fi bionic limbs paved the way for his fascination with 3D printed prosthetic devices over two years ago. With the help of e-NABLE, a US-based global online community of makers of 3D printed assisted hand devices, Sujana was able to kickstart his side project, Paksu Delta, and develop 3D printed prosthetic hands from his small Taiping office.

“I think I’ve made the most [3D printed prosthetic hands] in Malaysia. I’m not the only one but I think I’m the biggest,” says the 48-year-old father of six when we met up with him on his visit to Kuala Lumpur recently. When asked for an exact figure, Sujana admits he’s lost count of the number of 3D printed hands he’s made (both for charity and from commissioning), but he estimates the number should be well over 300.

While most of his former creations were 3D mechanical or manual prosthetic hands and devices, Sujana’s focus right now is more towards 3D electronic hands which are battery powered and use servo motors as compared to a manual device’s basic string mechanism. His model also uses a remote to control movement instead of conventional muscle sensors.

“The reason I don’t use muscle sensors is because it would take a very long time to get used to for children. Even adults can take several months to learn how to use it,” explains Sujana, who mostly – if not exclusively – creates prosthetic hands for children.  He went on to add that this remote control method is also easily upgradable, which makes it open to modifications – including the addition of a muscle sensor – if the need arises.

Why the focus on children? Sujana believes that child amputees should be given the opportunity to live a normal childhood. “I know how they feel – shy, lonely. Yang penting, it’s not about the hand. It’s their self-esteem. Imagine a little girl missing a hand. You’d feel sorry for her, right? She must feel kekurangan (handicapped). But then one day, she gets a hand. This isn’t an ordinary human hand, so she would have kelebihan (an advantage). Plus, it looks like a superhero’s hand, so she’d be like a celebrity in her school. She’ll be confident.”

And this is exactly what Sujana is aiming to achieve with his ongoing 20 Tangan 3D project. To kickstart this project, Sujana needed support, so he took to his usual channel for donations: Facebook. Last February, Sujana posted on his page, Paksu Delta asking for contributions in the form of materials needed to create 20 3D robotic hands for as many children. Within three days, he managed to get all the items needed from more than ten contributors including electronics companies and factories. He’s also collaborated with Kolej Komuniti Taiping, who offered him their space and amenities to use as well as student helpers.

Currently, Sujana’s team comprises of himself and five volunteers including his own daughter. A small-scale entity like Sujana’s working on something as profound as giving 20 children the opportunity to be independent and lead a normal life is precisely why he needs all the support and funding he can get. Strangely, Sujana’s pretty adamant about not accepting cash donations (he only accepts donations in the form of materials needed), but that will change once his new website, PaksuDelta.com is fully up and running. On the website, which should be ready by next year, individuals can donate to his cause using PayPal, while those in the region in need of a 3D prosthetic hand can apply for one. Until then, you can follow the progress of 20 Tangan 3D and get in touch with Sujana at www.facebook.com/paksu.delta.

So what can we expect next from Sujana? “I haven’t really thought about it yet,” was his reply, adding that he’s currently devoted to seeing the successful completion of 20 Tangan 3D, at which he and his team work on eight hours a day. “Maybe next year I’ll get another idea? I don’t know.”

Maybe Sujana doesn’t know yet, but if his past philanthropic works are anything to go by, we can expect something equally inspirational from him, because in the simple but wise words of the Taiping native: “If I don’t do it, who else will?”

By Syarifah Syazana

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