Alex McMillian, 17, has always loved to build things. As a kid, he would assemble Lego kits once according to instructions. Then, he would demolish and design a new structure. His love for Legos never disappeared.
But instead of toy ships and helicopters, Alex is interested in the assembly of something new, something useful — prosthetics.
A senior in Capital High School’s two-year engineering course, Alex recently 3-D printed a prosthetic hand for 11-year-old Evan Hines, a fifth-grader at Ruffner Elementary School, who was born without fingers and most of his palm on his left arm.
Evan knew Alex through the Good News Club at Ruffner. The two bonded over their love of “Star Wars.” Alex printed Evan a robotic-looking hand, painted gold and complete with wires. It was designed to look like C-3PO, an android character from the epic space opera.
Evan averages about 24 points a game in basketball, plays pitcher in baseball, loves video games and can handle a lightsaber almost as tall as himself. The 3-D-printed hand is strapped around Evan’s wrist and operates by clenching into a fist when Evan presses it.
“He’s still getting used to it,” said Evan’s mom, Tara Bartlett. “Giving him a second hand is like giving us a third hand.”
Evan often wears it to school and uses it for simple tasks, like holding a water bottle. It can hold a few pounds of weight, but the fingers cannot move individually.
Alex did not design the device himself. While researching prosthetic hands, he came across e-NABLE, a web-based community of volunteers that uses 3-D printers to create free prosthetic hands for those in need. Chapters of the group exist all over the world.
Read the full article about the student printing a prosthetic hand for his schoolmate by Jennifer Gardner at Charleston Gazette-Mail.
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