Students at UAlbany use 3D technology to create prosthetic hands for children

Photo Credit: MGN

 ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A computer science student at UAlbany is hoping to pursue a career in 3D printing or robotics, so when he heard about the opportunity to build a prosthetic hand for a child using 3D technology, he jumped at the chance to volunteer.

“I love to create and build things,” said Elliott Weintraub, a sophomore from Ardsley, N.Y. “I helped put together a child’s prototype hand and prosthetic hand.”

The project was started last year and ramped up significantly to complete hands for four children by the holidays. Originally planned as a one-time volunteer event, the project took on a life of its own with an estimated 50 volunteers and about 1,000 hours.

For children who are born missing a hand, receiving a cool-looking prosthetic in the colors of their favorite superhero is often not an option through regular means. Prosthetics, which ordinarily cost thousands of dollars, are usually purchased for adults, not children, because children outgrow them so quickly.

Each hand cost about $50 for parts and filament. When Capital Region businesses heard about the project, they were quick to donate materials. Lowes donated some of the special screws needed, while Schenectady, NY-based, miSci (Museum of Innovation and Science); Troy, NY-based, 1st Playable, loaned their 3D printers; and Clifton Park, NY-based Kitware printed additional parts. Students, faculty, and alumni donated funds.

The hands were shipped just in time for the holidays. The volunteers are currently working with the families on an ongoing basis, to retrofit the hands and customize them as needed. There are two adults also awaiting hands from UAlbany’s informatics department.

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