Oct.11, 2013

Two-year-old Huntsville toddler Kate Berkholtz can swing, scamper, saché and play just like any other toddler. Kate was born with Symbrachydactyly. Her left hand didn't fully develop in the womb. "When Kate was first born and we realized she was missing her fingers," recalls dad Michael Berkholtz, "we went to a lot of other places like Baltimore, Philadelphia and Atlanta to kind of find out what type of options we had."

The Berkholtz family says they didn't want to go the surgical route. But now 3D printing technology is giving them another option, a 3D printed new hand. Intern Shawn Betts at Zero Point Frontiers is using their 3D printer to help this little girl in Tennessee by creating her a much needed prosthetic. And this 3D printed hands should only cost about $5, said Betts.

The difficulty with fitting a faux hand on a toddler comes in the simple fact that kids grow – constantly. But the scaleability and affordability of 3D printing technology addresses that dilemma, says Shawn Betts.

"The cost of one of these hands is under $5," he says, "and we can do a couple of designs by changing little parts that cost 50 cents or less."

The low price point has allowed the team to design several fitting for Kate. Though the fishing line "tendons" don't work smoothly under Kate's tiny arm power and Kate doesn't yet have enough wrist control, but it's not a disappointment or a failure. Everyone is seeing possibilities now. The next hand will have a glove for better fit and wires for smoother action. And the hand after that will be even better.

(Images: Zero Point Frontiers)

Dad Michael says he never would have imagined a bio-plastic made from corn called Polylactic acid would be a viable option for his little girl to potentially have a fully-fuctioning hand.

"This technology is just amazing," says Betts.


 

Source: WHNT

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

 

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