Aug. 27, 2014 | By Alec

The 23 year old student Evan Kuester turned heads recently at a design competition at Savannah College in Georgia with his remarkable entry. He designed and constructed an intricate prosthetic arm made specifically for another student, the 21-year-old Ivania Castillo. More remarkably, the two did not know each other at all and had never spoken before.

Evan Kuester, who is firmly interested in design, architecture and digital fabrication and has now moved on to get a Masters at the California College of Arts, wanted to use his 3D printer to develop his entry. Evan explained to the Daily Mail: 'I've always wanted to design a prosthetic arm for as long as I can remember so the contest was the push I needed to finally make one. I wanted it to be designed to take advantage of the possibilities available to the world of prosthetics.'

Having noticed Ivania, who was born without a left hand, he built up the nerve to approach her and told her about his plans. Ivania, who is from Miami, Florida, explained how she felt about it: 'My initial reaction to the entire conversation was confusion - as Evan and I had never spoken to each another. I decided to go along with it because I was curious to see what would come out of it and it's not every day a complete stranger comes up to you and offers to design you a custom prosthetic.'

Kuester proceeded to photograph her arm from every angle, and designed the intricate prosthetic using Grasshopper, a user-friendly plugin for Rhino that requires little to no knowledge of scripting or programming. While he described his experience as a trail and error process, Kuester aimed at developing a prosthetic that is both functional, beautiful and stylish. The final product is made from ABS material and was printed as a single piece. While a support structure was needed while printing that beautiful decorative framework, the final prosthetic is worn without any support structure and is therefore lightweight and Ivania explained that it 'fit me perfectly.'

The printing process itself took more than 45 hours. The prosthetic itself is hollow, and can house a light bulb for added effect, but has limited practical uses beside that. While it can just about hold a glass of wine, Kuester explained that it was designed more as a piece of jewellery that as a practical, functional prosthetic. Since his first, white design, he has since made a second for Ivania that is more fitting for a formal outfit.

Kuester emphasized to Makezine that this was a wonderful learning experience, but that his designs are far from perfect:

This is my second attempt at printing prosthesis and this time it came out much better than the first attempt. If I could do it again I would improve the design in every way possible. Ideally the hand moves and is fully functional, however I am limited by current technologies, so I am settling for an aesthetically pleasing prosthetic that celebrates the unique opportunity presented by the model. Speaking in 3D printing terms, the stability of the model has room for improvement, my first attempt was way to bulky and this one is a hair on the thin side and sacrifices some strength for its aesthetic.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Nathan wrote at 8/28/2014 10:11:21 AM:

Considering the designer has wanted to design a prosthetic arm for as long as he can remember and has gone out of his way to find an end user - why has then made something completely useless that won't benefit her or improve her life at all? Surely that is the point of both a prosthetic arm and design.

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