Born without left hand, Michigan boy gets 3-D printed arm

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"Thumbs up is my favorite," said Zak Dubin. 

A simple gesture, thumbs up, is something 10-year-old Zak Dubin couldn't do with his left hand - until now. Zak is the first child in Michigan and one of the first in the country to be fitted with a 3D printed bionic hand, called The Hero Arm.

"This hero arm, particularly when he has the Iron Man sleeve on, has been very interesting," said his mom, Leslie Dubin.

This one seems to fit Zak just right. He's had prosthetics before, but they never worked out.

"For little kids that need a prosthetic if it's heavy, he described that it was hurting his shoulder, hurting his arm; it was too tight," Leslie said.

But 3-D printing makes this myoelectric arm lighter. Even though it's full of tech, it's about half the weight of his previous prosthetics.

"You can see the details of 3D print," Zak showed us.

And with some occupational therapy, he's moving and strengthening some new muscles. All of it helps make that bionic hand move the way he wants it to.

FOX 2: "Can you pick up this pen with your Hero Arm?"

"Yes," Zak said, grabbing it.

"Now the trick is trying to make it second nature, so it doesn't take so long to get the hand to react," said Leslie.

He is definitely making progress. He's able to ride his bike with better balance, and he has another hobby: birdwatching.

Zak is also going into fifth grade in the fall, and he has to choose an instrument. His mom says having two hands opens up more possibilities. 

"An instrument with a bow is an option now, so a violin is a potential or a cello," Leslie said.

"I'm thinking drums or violin," Zak said.

Decisions, decisions - but one thing they know. This decision to get the Hero Arm is giving Zak the chance to do things a little differently.

"It is magic," he said.

And different can be a good thing.

"It's okay if you're a little bit different," he said. "Some people just came up and said that's cool and other stuff, that's interesting."

"I think having that as a tool is wonderful," his mother said.

To learn more about the Hero Arm go to