Dec 10, 2015 | By Alec

With Christmas approaching fast, it’s great to see that the giving and charitable spirit is again reaching makers this year. And six-year-old boy Lucas Abraham from Kentucky has already received his best Christmas gift ever because of it, because a team of bioengineering students from the University of Louisville has just presented him with a custom made 3D printed bionic prosthetic that perfectly fits on his malformed arm.

It’s a heartwarming gift, especially because Lucas has been wanting a working right hand since he can remember. The six-year-old was born with a condition known as symbrachydactyly, a congenital abnormality that usually results in badly shaped hands – bones will often be missing from the fingers, fingers will be missing altogether or are sometimes just formed into tiny, undeveloped stumps. While Lucas has never let this stop him throughout his life, he did notice he was different. As Julie Abraham, Lucas’ grandmother, recalled, he was already dreaming of a robotic hand. “I heard him say to his mom one day, we were in the car and he said, ‘Mom when will I ever get a robo-hand?’ And it just got to me,” she said.

Grandma therefore wrote a letter to the University of Louisville, explaining the situation and asking if anything could be done. Fortunately, the bioengineering department was happy to oblige. As professor Gina Bertocci explained, a team of students set to work with the help of well-known prosthetic hand 3D printing movement e-NABLE. This prosthetic for Lucas was the first they manufactured, but Bertocci added that more can easily be produced to fit other children. So far, every kid who has seen it loved the idea, because it makes them look like a Transformer. “Everyone wants to show off their hardware,” she said.

Though the university described the prosthetic hand as bionic, it is actually a slightly modified e-NABLE design featuring a mechanical grip mechanism that is activated by wrist movement. Bending his wrist down will close the fingers, while moving the other way around opens them again. "So that he is able to be more independent throughout his day and to be able to engage in the normal daily activities," Bertocci said. The hand is largely 3D printed in plastic, but also features a few wires and leather components. In total, three hands were 3D printed by the students – two for Lucas, and another will be kept by the university for accreditation purposes. Each cost anywhere from $40 to $50 to make.

Fortunately, Lucas was over the moon about this new gift. Within minutes of putting it on, he managed to grasp a ball and quickly began wearing it all the time. He wore the hand to school too, where he was able to shake hands and give high fives. It also lets him crash cymbals together in music class, Lucas adds. "It's better than every gift that I've ever had before," Lucas told Reuters yesterday.

His family added that this prosthetic has already given Lucas more confidence. "We went to the grocery store and he's gripping the cart with both hands and we went down a slide and he said ‘I was able to push off, grip and push off with both arms,’" Lucas’ mother, Rachel Abraham told reporters. Grandmother Julie added, "It's a pretty good Christmas gift."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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