April 30, 2014

Rockford, IL- Students at an Illinois high school are using a 3D printer to build a plastic hand for a 9-year-old girl that may dramatically change her life.

Kylie Wicker, a third-grader at Whitman Post Elementary School in Rockton, is a regular nine-year-old girl, who enjoys the simple things in life, just like any other girl. She was born without fingers on her left hand.

Kylie has been quite positive about it, but there are times that she breaks down. "She has always been pretty positive about it, but lately when she was breaking down, it was kind of hard." said Jeromy Wicker, Kylies Father.

Kylie's parents have tried to get their daughter a prosthetic hand but that could cost $50,000, and their insurance would only cover 80% of the cost. "You have to take in the fact that she is only nine years old, and the way she grows, she will grow out of them," said Sharon Wicker, Kylies mom.

When her father found a video online about making plastic hand on a 3D printer, he wrote an email to teachers at local Boylan High School asking if they could help with their 3D printer.

"He had seen online that you could make a 3-D printout of the fingers on a plastic printer, and he knew we had one," Bud May, instructor of the engineering graphics class.

The teachers and students started designing a prosthetic hand that could fit over Kylie's knuckles. They have never done this before, but it took them only few days to figure out how to make a 3D printout of the fingers on a Makerbot 3D printer. "The flexible cords make the fingers stand out when you bend the wrist forward the length gets longer and the cables force the hand to grasp." said May.

And in just few days, Kylie can wear it. "Coming really fast, because I'm going to get it on Friday, and it's really exciting," Kylie said. “I can finally ride my bike!”

Kylie will get two prosthetics, one in pink and one in purple, each consisting of about 30 parts. "The total cost of this hand will be barely $5.00, there is maybe $1.00 worth of plastic, and it costs a couple of bucks for the fasteners." Said May. Kylie's hand is expected to be ready by Friday.

"It's the little stuff that we take for granted that we don't even notice that she can't do right now that she'll be able to do," Kylie's mom Wicker told the Rockford Register Star. "Even when she's eating, if she's taking a bite of something, she can't just grab her drink and take a drink real quick. She has to set it all down."

"It's amazing. This is all out there on the public domain," May told the newspaper. "You just scale the entire set up or down to fit the hand."

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Jim-Bob wrote at 5/3/2014 9:57:41 AM:

I love seeing stories like this! It's just another example of open source design being used to improve the lives of those without extraordinary means around the world. I can imagine this helping people in developing countries who ordinarily would not have access to this kind of technology to regain use of their hands.

tomas wrote at 5/1/2014 12:23:47 PM:

@Bud May It's "robohand.net".

Andre Romao wrote at 4/30/2014 11:14:40 PM:

Of course, the $10 price depends on free labor from the students and teachers at the high school. The $50,000 "professionally" made hand most likely costs a tiny bit more in materials, but the largest cost is to help pay for some dude's new Ferrari :)

Bud May, Boylan Catholic High School wrote at 4/30/2014 2:29:14 PM:

Thanks for the nice article about our class service project. Benefactors are the reason we could do it, including "robohand.org" and Richard van As and Ivan Owens, who created the designs and put them in the open source world of thingiverse. It's good to do good things, including supporting their efforts.

Dwayne Williams wrote at 4/30/2014 2:16:22 PM:

A truly lovely young lady. So fulfilling to change her and her families lives with technology. I would not trade the experience for the world.



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