Giving Hand Makers a Helping Hand


HOUSTON, Texas. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — When you hear the word ‘printer’ you think of ink cartridges or paper jams, not helping ‘hand’ people a quality of life they otherwise couldn’t imagine. But 3D printers are quickly changing our images of what printers can do.

Since eight-year-old Jessica Castro was born, she’s had to adjust to living with just one hand in a two-hand world. But a 3D printed hand, created in a lab, helps her get by

Jessica’s mother, Karina, explained, “We come to the lab, take the measurements and the engineers work with it and they give us a call.”

Jessica, and kids like her, is why a group of engineering undergrads spent time brainstorming ways to improve a 3D printed hand. Then pediatric hand surgeon at Shriner’s Hospital in Houston, Texas, Gloria Gogola, M.D., had a better idea.

“What would really be more important than just a new design would be a way to test all designs,” Dr. Gogola told Ivanhoe.

A bioengineering graduate student at Rice University, Michaela Dimoff, detailed that Dr. Gogola  “Came back to us and said, ‘hey, I’ve got a bunch of these kids who want these prosthetic hands but the hands don’t really work that well and wouldn’t it be great if you could come up with a testing device so that hand designers can make better hands.’”

Calling their team “Carpal Diem”, five young women set out to understand the world of 3D printing like, well, the back of their hand.

“Anybody who wants to test out a new design before giving it to a child can say, okay, this meets certain criteria, this will do what we want it to do, or this doesn’t even start, we need to design something differently,” said Dr. Gogola.

The reach of this invention spans far beyond just one 3D printed hand design, it will improve all of them.

“There’s nothing like this on the market or in the world right now,” said Dimoff.

The hand-testing device cost less than $1,200 to develop. Dr. Gogola is testing the prototype to see what or if anything needs to be done before they share it with other groups.

Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed, Videographer.