Local students use 3D printer to make prosthetic for kids

GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WRIC) — One local university is taking the technology of 3D printers from the classroom to the community.

Friday afternoon, students at ECPI University fitted two local children with prosthetic arms made using a 3D printer.

7-year-old Lydia chose her arm to be in red, white and blue, because combined those colors make purple, her favorite color.

“She’s adapted well with just having one hand, and there’s nothing she can’t do already,” her father Kevin said. “So I’m excited, she’s excited. She’s been calling it her robot hand.”

This was all made possible for free through ECPI University and their local chapter of student volunteers with ‘Enabling the Future.’

The global network makes assistive devices affordable for families around the world, changing the lives of children just like Lydia.

“She’s just a super awesome kid,” said ECPI Engineering Technology student Jose Rodriguez. “So just the fact that you’re able to help somebody who comes in and says, ‘I want a robot arm.’ Your heart melts a little bit knowing that you’re going to do that for her.”

Each piece of the arm is made on a 3D printer. Some pieces only take a couple hours. Others they leave overnight and come back in the morning when they are finished.

“It takes about a three-day process overall,” Rodriguez said.

Students said the final step of seeing the kids reactions is the most rewarding.

As Lydia grows up, the university has agreed to make her new prosthetics at no cost.

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