Students at the University of Florida lent a hand to children from across the nation after providing 3D printed prosthetics to 12 families at the Hands to Love Hand Camp in Starke, April 8-10.
The student-run club, GRiP, provided eight 3D printed prosthetic arms and four task-specific devices to children with upper arm deficiencies at the camp.
Jessie Bergau, GRiP president and UF zoology student, said the device delivery allowed families to preview a cost-effective introduction to 3D printing and prosthetics.
“One of the main things with this is a lot of the families can’t afford prosthetics for their kids because they grow so fast,” Bergau said. “A lot of it’s confidence too. The kids want to show it off as you’ve seen, they’ll try ’em on and be like ‘hey this is really cool’ and run around and show their friends.”
Prior to delivering the 12 devices, GRiP members put on a STEM education portion for campers introducing them to 3D printing.
“We’re just trying to get some STEM knowledge to the kids,” GRiP member Pablo Delvalle, 20, said. “Show them what 3D printing has for them in terms of prosthetics and what it can do for them.”
Club member and UF engineering student Austin Marcellus, 21, said this year’s Hand Camp was his first time at the event and his favorite part of the experience was seeing the reactions of the campers.
“I expected a lot seeing the kids,” Marcellus said. “I knew they’d be excited for it but really getting here and seeing the ways these kids run around and carry themselves… It made the whole thing worth it, all the time we put into it. It just makes it a great experience.”
But 3D printing doesn’t just apply to prosthetics and that can be seen in the variety of members of the GRiP club.
“I really like the application of 3D printing to things outside of 3D printing,” Marcellus said. “You see 3D printers go a lot for novelty things and I mean they are working for prosthetics now, but I am an engineer by trade so I use 3D printing in my 3D printer to do prototype and rapid prototyping designs for robots or mechanical pieces.”
Club member Ghazal Farajzadeh, 20, studies applied physiology and kinesiology at UF. She said she uses what she uses in her classes and applies it to GRiP’s 3D printing.
“In a way I’ll be thinking what I learned about in class about certain biomechanics and apply it to the 3D printed devices so it’s interesting to see that in action,” Farajzadeh said. “It’s not like completely the same obviously, but it’s cool to be able to utilize that.”
GRiP provided devices to children ranging in age from four to 18 and Bergau said she hopes the group will continue to work with Hands to Love and be a part of Hand Camps in the future.
“It’s a really good outlet because a problem that a lot of people who are making these have is that their recipients are all over the world so it’s hard to deliver them and make sure the fit is right,” Bergau said. “But we have this one weekend every year that we can come bring everyone together and make sure the fit is right and get really good feedback from the kids.”