3D printing solved Matty’s deodorant problem and brought two friends together

Matty Dunn’s morning routine is a little tougher than most 11-year-olds.

Important points:

  • A boy from northwest Tasmania has a disability, which means he has shortened limbs and was unable to apply deodorant himself
  • His friend Murphy used his school vacation time to design a deodorant holder and 3D print it
  • The boys were introduced through a program that aimed to bring together students from mainstream and support schools

His shortened limbs make part of the prep process quite difficult – applying deodorant.

“It’s a little hard to get under my arms, I’ve had problems,” he said.

Until his new friend, 13-year-old Murphy Mansfield, came up with a device that could help.

Matty and Murphy met two years ago when Murphy’s school, Montello Primary in Burnie, northwest Tasmania, began attending Murphy’s class at North West Support School.

Murphy Mansfield uses Montello Primary School software to design the holder, which was made on a 3D printer. (

ABC News: Erin Cooper

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When a teacher saw their budding friendship and suggested Murphy help Matty with his deodorant problem, he didn’t need to be asked twice.

“When I went to Support School, I wanted to help and make it easier for people,” he said.

Working mostly on recess and at lunchtime, Murphy designed a plastic deodorant holder that could essentially extend Matty’s arm and allow him to reach his armpit.

A computer screen with a 3D model is displayed. Murphy Mansfield’s model of deodorant holder design for his friend Matty Dunn. (

ABC News: Erin Cooper

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The finished product was made on a 3D printer at Montello Primary with the help of another student, Addison.

“I’ve always been a very practical person, so it was a lot easier to use the 3D printer than trying to draw it,” Murphy said.

The project wasn’t an overnight success as early iterations turned out to be “like a blob”.

“The first one we printed took six hours, was black and had Matty’s name, but it had a loophole that we tried to fix but couldn’t.”

“The owner he now has made three tries and took eight hours to print.”

Friendship comes from technology

Matty has a very rare blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, which prevents the bone marrow from properly producing new blood cells, causing his limbs to shorten and stature.

He is one of only about 20 Australians suffering from the little-known disease.

Matty Dunn has a device in his hand that he can use to apply deodorant. Matty uses the holder as an extension of his arm so he can apply his own deodorant. (

ABC News: Erin Cooper

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It also affects Matty’s eardrum, so he wears a hearing aid and does balance exercises several times a week.

Being able to put on your own deodorant is an important piece of evidence of independence.

“The owner has helped me a lot,” said Matty. “I’m really proud to be able to put it on myself.”

While Murphy is now in high school, the two of them still spend a lot of time together working on refining the deodorant holder’s design.

“When I saw him using his iPad with his limbs shortened, I thought it was cooler than just me with a phone,” Murphy said.

“I just love Matty’s personality – he’s so funny and it brightens my day.”

The Montello Primary 3D Printer and Computer The Montello Primary 3D printer and computer that students can use to design their own projects. (

ABC News: Erin Cooper

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Matty said he always looked forward to Murphy visiting him to play games and work together.

“He’s been very good and my friend for a long time, so he will be my friend forever and ever,” he said.

“He’s very good at designing things for me … he’s very kind and caring and he helps me with anything I need help with.”

Program that brings students together

Murphy attended North West Support School as part of the Young Leaders of Tasmania buddy program.

Keren Franks Managing Director of Young Leaders of Tasmania Keren Franks, Managing Director of Young Leaders of Tasmania. (

ABC News: Andy Cunningham

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The program’s executive director, Keren Franks, said it had expanded leadership for students with and without disabilities.

“Throughout the school year, friends are encouraged to develop goals, build meaningful relationships, and also think about disabilities,” she said.

Ms. Franks said Matt and Murphy’s friendship is a perfect example of how the program is achieving its goals.

“The outcome of Matty and Murphy’s trip just met all of the criteria. It was just an amazing result,” she said.

“We want to create a new normal for diversity within communities. If many children do not come into contact with people with disabilities, it is good to see that they make friends early and think inclusive.”

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