Students 3D Print and Assemble Prosthetic Hands for School Project

hand1What do you get when you combine a motivated student leader, enthusiastic classmates, a worldwide online community, and the latest 3D Printing technology from Stratasys? You give children around the world a cool way to hold things again.  That is what happened when high school student Rahul Jayaraman of Basis Chandler decided to take part in a project called Enabling The Future. They describe themselves as “A global network of passionate volunteers using 3D Printing to give the world a ‘helping hand'” by designing a wide variety of prosthetic hands for kids that can be printed and assembled by volunteers.

Local news station, KSAZ FOX 10 Phoenix stopped by PADT while we were printing three hands in our Stratasys FORTUS 450 to interview Rahul and talk to us about the project.  It gives a great summary:

And Channel 3, KTVK, came to the assembly event at Basis Chandler:>

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As did Channel 12, KPNX:

3D Printing is a fantastic technology for one simple reason, it enables almost anyone to manufacture parts. All you need is a good design. And that is where the people at Enabling the Future come in.  Check out their website to see some great examples of how their volunteer work changes so many lives. Have a box of tissue handy if you watch the videos…

This is how the project works.  A leader like Rahul takes the initiative to sign up for the project. He then chooses which of the many designs he wants to make.  For this first go around, he picked a general design from Thingiverse called the Raptor Reloaded.  Next they needed the hardware you could not 3D Print – screws springs, velcro, and bits and pieces that hold the design together.  For this they needed to raise $25 per hand so Rahul was given the opportunity to learn how to raise money, a very useful skill.

hand2PADT’s Dhruv Bhate and the rest of our 3D Printing team worked with Rahul to get the design just right and then 3D Print the hands.  That will be done this week and this weekend the next phase will take place. Rahul and a large number of his classmates from Basis Chandler will get together at the school this weekend to put thirty or so hands together.  They will then box them up and another volunteer group, www.HandChallenge.com, will ship them to kids in the developing world that need them.

Here is a video from Tom Fergus from Fox10 showing a closeup of the hand in action:

We at PADT love projects like this because it is win-win-win.  The students get a chance to run a complicated project by themselves, learning the skills they will need later in life to organize, manage, and finish a project. PADT wins because we can contribute to our chosen area of charity, STEM education, in a way that benefits others beyond a given school. And the big winners are the kids around the world that receive a new and cool way to grab hold of life.

We will have sample hands at our open house next Thursday: Nerdtoberfest as well as an update when we get feedback from the distribution of the hands.