3D printer used to make parts for prosthetic hand


A 3D printed prosthetic hand.

Billy Cyze was born without a hand due to amniotic band syndrome, which occurs when a fetus becomes entangled in fibrous amniotic bands of the mother’s womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development.

Billy uses a prosthetic hand. A professionally made, muscle-activated hand costs thousands of dollars. Instead the Cyze family had purchased a 3D printer for their home and they use print files from e-NABLE, a global network of volunteers who donate their design skills to help create free 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need. But there was a problem.

Dolores Cyze explains, “We used our 3D printer to print most of the parts, but we needed to use a special filament for the joints to allow for flexibility. Our 3D printer wasn’t able to print with this type of filament. But the library has a 3D printer that prints with this filament.”

Working with the staff, they printed the needed pieces on the library’s 3D printer and Billy and his dad, Adam, put the hand together. More than a year later, at the age of 14, Billy is still using it today.

The 3D-printed device is not a fully functional prosthetic device and cannot support more than a few pounds of weight. However, the fingers provide a basic grasping function that can be used for simple tasks and provide balance.

“The hand we printed cost us less than $50 to make,” says Cyze, “With the help of the library’s 3D printer, we’ll be able to reprint the prosthetic as Billy grows, and to replace pieces as they wear, much more affordably.”

Donations to the IPPL Foundation helped to give Billy his hand and will continue to aid in making sure he has a proper fitting prosthetic as he grows. The library’s 3D printer has been used to print hundreds of objects since it was donated by the IPPL Foundation in 2014, ranging from replacement parts for toys and electronics to a miniature neighborhood for a business proposal. For information on what you can make with our 3D printer, go to 3dprinter.ippl.info. To  make a donation to continue this type of service to the community, go to ipplfoundation.org.