UWM Lends A Helping Hand With 3D Prosthetic Printing

Jan 4, 2016

Three-dimension printing is everywhere these days - from car parts to people parts. It’s that latter category that drew in artist and UWM art professor Frankie Flood.

Flood’s background is in jewelry and metalsmithing. His previous work included treating everyday objects  as art.

More recently, Flood and his students have turned their attention to using their design and 3D printing skills towards creating prosthetic hands for children. They connected with the e-NABLE network, a group of volunteers that design and print a "helping hand" for children in need.

"Information is being passed so freely right now that you have to figure out 'how can I help other people? How can I use my skills and my abilities to do things that are for the better of society?'" says Flood.

Flood not only prints hands, but he also improves the designs to adapt the function of the prosthetics for recipients who need extra help in holding objects, such as an instrument.

Fitting children for prosthetics comes with the additional challenge of the kids outgrowing their fittings.

"Most children would not have a prosthetic hand because of that growth rate, because of the expense of it," says Flood. Fortunately, 3D printing has allowed many children to have access to prosthetics that are easily redesigned and replaced as the child grows. It only takes about 12 hours to print a prosthetic hand.

You can follow Shea Stollenwerk's (featured in video above) journey with her new hand on her blog. You can also stay up-to-date on the work Frankie Flood and his students are doing on his blog.