23 year old Kenyan mechanical engineering student, Roy Ombatti, is helping to combat a disease called Jigger, through his love for 3D print technology. Although many of us wouldn’t have heard of this infection, (which is brought on by a sand flea, or ‘jiggers’, as they’re known), it affects as many as 2.6 million people, half of which are school children. The flea burrows into the skin and destroys surrounding tissue. In the worst cases, this can lead to amputation or death, and many are unable to continue to wear normal footwear.
Happy Feet shoes are manufactured from recycled plastic bottles, and are designed for those whose feet have been deformed by jigger tissue damage. Ombatti came up with the idea for the shoes through entering the 3D4D challenge – a project that encourages social innovation in low income countries. The way Happy Feet works, is that the shoe is adapted and formed around the foot. Right now 3D printers are limited to plastic materials, however Ombatti hopes to work with alternative materials in the future, that would help the designs to become even more flexible.
“We’ve got to continue trying to give others a better life – that’s what I want to use my knowledge as an engineer for.”