HOWTO make a prosthetic arm from a pop bottle

Here's a technique for making low-cost, light-duty below-the-elbow prostheses from 2-litre soda bottles from Instructables user CIRnetwork:

In resource-limited areas worldwide, individuals with amputations may not be able to gain access to prosthetics devices due to a lack of the materials needed to fabricate them. This simple technique utilizes a 2-liter soda bottle to create below-the-elbow prosthesis suitable for a number of 'light duty' activities.

Please note well that this technique is intended for use by trained prosthetists and it is intended to be preformed only using a plaster cast of the residual limb.

Plastic Soda Bottle Prosthesis (via Make)


  1. “Please note well that this technique is intended for use by trained prosthetists and it is intended to be preformed only using a plaster cast of the residual limb. ”

    In other words: Remember kids, don’t try this at home.

  2. It’s nice to see how this can be done in poor areas. The Western prosthetic industry strives for perfection, which is highly impractical for 99% of the world.

    My wife has a “wooden leg” (carbon fiber, really) which uses the same sort of plastic form-fitting socket but stronger and about 1000000x more expensive. The trial leg socket they make for test-drives is made of acrylic and it looks not much different from this soda bottle thingie.

    I’m curious as to how long the soda bottle plastic will survive in a typical active lifestyle. They are fairly resilient, but there is a point of high stress at the neck of the bottle.

    I wonder… would there be any type of industrial-strength plastic bottle that would fill the bill for use as a leg socket? Or some pipe that could shrink to fit?

  3. I suppose cheap means you can afford to break them.
    A lot of these missing limbs come from landmines, clusterbombs and the like. Could save even more money by signing the ban.

  4. As the bottle shrinks to fit the mold, the walls will naturally thicken a little bit. But if even thicker walls are desired, laundry detergent bottles are generally made of much thicker plastic than a 2 liter soda bottle. Scrounging around is likely to find a suitable large plastic bottle with thicker walls. You would need more time and patience with the heat gun, but it should work.

  5. I suppose it would be distorted by the heating process but could you keep the bottle lids and make various attachments that screw on for non-load bearing tasks? the thread is probably not secure enough I guess.

  6. @ #5 GLATT1

    I see your point but I think that laundry detergent bottles tend to be made from polyurethane, the thicker slightly coudy waxy feeling plastic, which has altogether different properties to the plastic in pop botttles.

    But either how, this is GENIUS.

    I was just wondering if you could apply multiple layers/bottles to add strength?

    I am pretty sure that a second and thrird bottle with the bottle neck cut off could be heated up and slid over the primary skin. Also sure that there are tree gums that bond nearly all plastics when properly treated.

    Desperately trying to remember what Bush Tucker Man said they were.

    Anyway, I am blown away by this Instructable CIRnetwork.


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