Wednesday, January 22, 2014

High School Students use 3D Printer to Make Prosthetic Hand

Here is a news story about how 3D printing has already started to revolutionize the medical industry.  Just a few years ago an advanced prosthetic hand that allows the user to catch balls, write and do just about everything a real hand can do would have taken advanced medical teams to create.  Today, using 3D printing, a high school robotics team can do it.

A four year old little girl from Cedar Springs, MI, who was born without a right hand had recently outgrown her first prosthetic hand.  The family couldn’t afford the $5000 price tag for a new one (Insurance wouldn’t cover it).  Going without a hand at this age would have undoubtedly been devastating.  This is the age where children start to learn all sorts of new things, including writing and playing sports.

The Robotics team at West Catholic High School decided to do something about it.  The team got with a local parent who had a 3D printer, and got to work.
The robotics team consulted with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to make a cast of young Harmony’s hand so it would fit perfectly.  They then proceeded to make an advanced prosthetic hand.

The hand is made with plastic and elastic cables, which respond to Harmony’s wrist movements, allowing her to pick things up, catch balls, and perform many other activities that would have otherwise been impossible.

West Catholic High School and the robotics team presented the hand to young Harmony free of charge. 

This is just one more example of how 3D printing is bringing advanced technologies like those used in the prosthetic hand, to the people who need it.  Without the 3D printer, Harmony would have had to go without a hand.

What a great story!  I love how 3D printing is allowing people from all walks of life to help each other out!  What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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