Local students use 3D printers to create prosthetic hands for children around the world

NOVI, Mich. (WXYZ) – Students at Novi Woods Elementary School are teaming up in the classroom and making an impact around the world. They’re creating prosthetic limbs for kids in need by using 3D printers they have in the school district.

Fourth grader Shalin Sitaraman says, “We’re making these prosthetic hands so that they can have an easier life.”

The kids’ mentors are members of Novi High School’s robotics team.

Fenton Lawler is a Novi High School senior.

He says, “Watching the kids when they get to see the 3D printer and putting it together, they have a lot of fun. It’s just really heartwarming.”

Fenton is on the robotics team which had already been creating the prosthetic limbs for the global non-profit e-NABLE. It’s a network of volunteers that uses 3D printing to provide the free prosthetic limbs.

Last summer, Fenton and his teammate, Kirsten Anderson, decided they wanted to get more people involved.

“We just kinda thought about it. There’s kids out there that could be building these arms and learning about 3D technology. getting an experience you couldn’t get anywhere else,” says Fenton.

They, along with a parent in the community, met with Julie Farkas of the Novi Public Library. They were looking for a way to take E-Nable to other students and to the community.

“This was a win-win from the get go,” says Farkas.

Soon after that meeting, they started working with some of the district’s 4th graders to use 3D printers and plastic filament to create the prosthetics.

Luke Janigian says, “It was pretty hard to make it. When I saw it I was like it’s finally done. I just knew that someone in the world would be able to get that hand that didn’t have one.”

In December, the helping hands project went beyond the classroom and to the library. That’s where community members got a chance to make them, too.

“We were able to create an assembly day and sign up people who were interested in learning more about the hand and making a hand,” says Farkas.

Plans are already in the works for the next community assembly day. Thanks to donations and 3D printers that are already in the district and the library, the students are able to make a difference.

So far, nearly 100 prosthetic arms and hands have been made.

Fenton Lawler says, “It’s not just just the movement. It’s the fact that they have a limb there. For many in poor countries, they are not able to work or fit into society. Now that they have an arm, they can fit in.”

Jyotsna Joshi is also a senior at Novi High School.

She says, “I never understood what it means when people say I saw a spark in their eyes and when I work with these kids and you explain something and they get it, you see the cognition happen. That was my favorite part.”

They all say it’s been a rewarding experience. Soon, they hope to extend it to all of the district’s 4th graders.

Ten-year-old Tessa Taulbee, a student at Novi Woods, says “I think it’s great because even though we’re kids, we get to make a difference. Some people have to wait to make their difference, but we already get to do something amazing like this.” 

The students have a goal of creating 200 prosthetic arms by June.

If you want to learn more about e-NABLE go to: http://enablingthefuture.org

To learn more about how Novi is helping “e-nable” the future, go to: http://www.novilibrary.org/Resources/Access-Technology/Enabling-The-Future.aspx

Prosthetic Leg Prototype Designed to Improve Balance and Mobility for Dogs

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We’ve seen birds, tortoises, lizards, and cats get a new lease on life thanks to 3D printed prosthetic limbs, but more often, it seems, we hear about puppies and dogs that benefit from the use of 3D printed prosthetics – though the technology doesn’t always end up being the right choice. Recently, Model Solution, a provider of precision prototyping, tooling, and lower volume manufacturing services with locations in California and South Korea, held its international 2017 Model One Awards (MOA), which recognize industrial design students for excellence in product design. This year, one of the winning designs was a new prosthetic leg for dogs called the Echo.

According to the company’s case study on the Echo, “When a dog loses a limb, it affects both the dog and the owner. Canines with such injuries can become depressed as their natural mobility and balance are compromised. Their owners can also be affected by seeing their ‘best friend’ hindered by such a horrible injury…

“The Echo prosthetic can have an incredibly positive effect on dogs both physically and mentally.�

The Echo prosthetic leg is designed to improve a dog’s balance and mobility, while also helping to avoid spinal issues and reducing unnecessary pressure on the body. As the prosthetic mimics the natural functions of a dog’s original leg, it has a very positive effect on the dog. Shubham Harish, a student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, developed the design for the canine prosthetic leg, with assistance and support from Model Solution, which has served a range of industries, including aerospace, consumer, and medical, since it was founded in 1993.

The company’s design team verified the Echo design for manufacturing, and helped Harish choose the best manufacturing processes and materials for prototyping. Harish initially suggested a selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing process, and carbon-fiber reinforced nylon, to make the main supporting structure strong and rigid, but the company suggested CNC machining the structure out of ABS, as it is hard to apply finishes to SLS 3D printed parts. However, the prosthetic is still considered to be 3D printable.

It is vitally important to determine the proper fit, form, and function of a prosthetic to see if it will work for a specific dog. Luckily, natural movement and comfort were kept in mind while designing the Echo prosthetic dog limb, and breathable materials, like soft pelite sponge foam and urethane, were used to make it, along with making sure it would be easy to fit and adjust to the dog.

The Echo prosthetic uses a ReMotion Knee joint, which creates and mimics the limb’s continuous back and forth movement with three steel springs. The fit is comfortable and tight, thanks to a vacuum suction socket and one-way liner, which are filled with small magnetic points. These points also help the dog get the prosthetic on while it’s connected to the docking station – when the dog’s stump is near the socket, the attraction between these points helps with the initial fit. Then, suction helps pull the stump the rest of the way in.

In addition to CNC machining, Model Solution also used wet-sanding, plating, and screen printing to build the prototype. The company was also concerned that certain rubber parts would experience shrinkage during manufacturing, and made them out of plastic instead, later painting them with soft-touch paint so they would still have a rubber-like feel, as Harish wanted.

According to the results of the case study, “The Echo provides dogs that have lost a limb with a prosthetic that mimics the functions of their original limb and feels natural as they use it. Considerations of comfort, natural movement, communication between the body and the new limb, the need for adjustments and proper fit, and the use of breathable materials have all been met by the Echo dog prosthetic, which is able to return confidence and happiness to both the dog and its owner.�

Model Solution was able to showcase its high-quality appearance model of the 3D printable Echo prosthetic canine leg at the 2017 IDSA International Design Conference in Atlanta this summer. The company is also working with different consumer electronics companies in order to produce similar prototypes in time for CES 2018 in Las Vegas next month.

Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Images provided by Model Solution]

Cedar Park students make 3D prosthetic hand for schoolmate

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Summit Christian Academy in Cedar Park is using its 3D printer to help kids in need of a prosthetic hand. On Thursday, fifth-grade students were working on computers, adjusting designs to print prosthetic hands. Engineering students then put the pieces together to form a functional hand.

Senior Paris Varnier got the first finished product. She flexes her wrist which allows the prosthetic hand to open and close. But there’s a learning curve, especially after going her whole life without a left hand; Varnier wasn’t born with one. “So I think with time it will get easier, but it’s more control, even driving, I have to push my arm up against the wheel, whereas I can grip now so it’s simple tasks that I think people don’t think about,” explains Varnier.

She won’t be the only one benefiting. Students will continue to make prosthetic hands to donate. “We want to find more people in the community that need help with prosthetic hands, so we’re contacting others in the community,” said Nicole Cooper, technology teacher at Summit Christian Academy.

Cost will now be one less obstacle, something that previously prevented Varnier from getting a permanent prosthetic. “Not a lot of people have that opportunity to get one, it’s just so expensive, so being able to 3D print and use that resource to bless people outside this school, I think is really awesome.”

Some prosthetic hands can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on functionality and appearance. The basic hands Summit Christian Academy is printing, costs the school about $100 dollars per hand, which comes out of their curriculum budget.

As of now students are just printing prosthetic left hands, but they may eventually expand to create other types of prosthetics. It can take up to three hours to print a larger part from a hand, or as little as one minute to print a small part.