Bryant High School’s Engineering course is doing more than just teaching students about 3D printing. It’s making a huge difference in the life of one little girl.
Emma Kincaid, a kindergarten student at Springhill Elementary, was born missing fingers on her left hand. Emma’s family had discussed the option of a prosthetic hand, but didn’t want to move forward until she was ready. When Emma noticed her older brother doing things she wasn’t able to do, she began asking her parents for a “robot hand.”
Staff members at Springhill helped connect Emma and her family with the BHS Engineering Department. Already interested in biomedical engineering, junior Gracie Kimbrell took lead on the class project.
Instructor John Williams guided the engineering students through the problem-solving process of designing and creating the prosthetic hand. After multiple measurements were taken of Emma’s hand and arm, plans for the prosthetic hand were found online through the organization E-NABLE then printed using the school’s 3D printer.
“In 3D printing, nothing is ever perfect the first time,” Williams said. “Gracie had to print several models to ensure the right fit for Emma.” Each model took about two days to print and several hours to construct, using pins and wire.
On October 13, Gracie met with Emma to make sure the latest model was fit correctly. The wrist function on Emma’s new hand moves a hinge that allows the hand to grasp. The hand is padded and attached to her forearm by Velcro straps.
Emma’s parents and grandmother were present for the final fitting as were her classmates. One of the first things she wanted to do with her new hand: hold a drink. Her smile was bright as she hugged and thanked Gracie for her purple-colored robot hand.
While this prosthetic works well, Gracie is already working on a better model. “The 3D printing process is a great option for children since a new prosthetic can easily be printed as an individual grows or if a piece breaks,” said Williams.