Rail Road Flat Elementary School Uses Their 3D Printer to Make a Prosthetic Hand

Rail Road Flat, CA…The sixth grade students of Mr. Randall Youngblood’s class were told of a program called e-Nable in which a 3D printer was used to make a hand for a child that didn’t have one. “The e-NABLE Community is an amazing group of individuals from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device. They are people who have put aside their political, religious, cultural and personal differences – to come together and collaborate on ways to help improve the open source 3D printable designs for hands and arms for those who were born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster.

Dravin and Jett test the hand

The Hand is complete)

The Hand can grip


The e-NABLE Community is made up of teachers, students, engineers, scientists, medical professionals, tinkerers, designers, parents, children, scout troops, artists, philanthropists, dreamers, coders, makers and everyday people who just want to make a difference and help to “Give the World a Helping Hand.”

” The e-NABLE Community started with around 100 or so people who were simply offering to print the files that were already in existence and a handful of devices had been made.and then something beautiful started happening…designers started joining and doing exactly what Ivan had hoped they would…..they started innovating….collaborating and re-sharing the improved design files back out into the universe! It was incredible!

Within that first year – the e-NABLE community grew from 100 members to over 3000. They created over 750 hands for people around the world. Within another year – they have more than doubled to nearly 7000 members and approximately 2000 devices created and gifted to individuals in over 45 countries. All of these 3D printed hands and arms were free to the end user thanks to the incredible volunteers in our community.”

Donna Vial, the coding and 3D enrichment teacher, embraced the opportunity to use their recently bake–sale-earned 3D printer in this way and signed up Rail Road Flat Elementary School for the HAND CHALLENGE.

The project began when two of the three students learned what it was like NOT to have a hand by taping a sock around one of their own hands during a school day. This gave the students personal insights to what a handicapped person has to deal with on a daily basis. Discussions were had and stories written about their experiences. They came to understand that not only did they get talked about by others on the playground, but one also needed assistance in eating her lunch. One took off his sock in frustration as he couldn’t win at a four-square game. Another, feeling he couldn’t handle the kidding of others, chose not to wrap his hand, which would make his physical handicap visible but, instead, just elected NOT to use one hand thus making his handicap invisible.

The 3D printing began. Piece by piece the parts were make. Some took up to 7 ½ hours to print! After getting out the printing and sizing kinks, the hand was completed. Next, the assembly began. The cord doesn’t fit. Start over and try another size. The screws are too large and block each other. Start over and try again. Then fingers did not open. Why not? Solve problem, start over and try again. Perseverance. Don’t give up. We can do it.
Next, the Velcro, padding, support strap were sized, cut, re-sized and cut again. Done! Does it bend? Yes! Open? Yes! Can it grip? Yes! We did it! No problem.

The hand will be shipped off for inspection and distributed to a child if it passes. When it does, we hope to hear who the lucky recipient is and perhaps get a picture.

They will then be looking for sponsors of other hands. If you are inclined to join their efforts to make another hand, please consider becoming a sponsor. Your donation of $50 to the Friends of Rail Road Flat will make the next hand. We want to acknowledge Supervisor-elect Jack Garamendi for his offer to become a sponsor.

Send your donation to FORRFS PO Box 223 Rail Road Flat,Ca. 95248 Hand Challenge in memo