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.