Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tesia Galvan
Staff Writer 

A helping hand

WMS student uses 3-D printer to make prosthetic


August 26, 2016

Tesia Galvan

Worland Middle School student Hyrum Rich tries on the prosthetic hand he made during summer school with the Worland Middle School 3-D printer.

WORLAND – A 13-year-old Worland Middle School student built a prosthetic hand using a 3-D printer.

Eighth-grade student Hyrum Rich spent his summer taking enriched courses in computer technology and robotics, though it wasn't mandatory.

Rich said, "The main reason I went to summer school is because we got a new 3-D printer," and shared his family moved from Spokane, Wash., last year right after he and other students raised enough money to buy a 3-D printer to start projects.

"They sent me a present. Just one finger that worked," he said with a laugh. "Eventually, I decided I would try it here."

To begin with, Rich said, "Our first model we picked a generic hand on file, and I made a couple adjustments to help it out.

"The problem is we didn't realize until we printed most of it that you need bolts to go through all the parts so it can move. It's kind of hard to get small enough bolts to go through this, so we have this one as our demo in the computer tech room," Rich said.

Rich said the next time they began to make a prosthetic hand he picked the K1 hand. "We started printing the fingers first. With the other ones you need bolts for each little joint. With this one it either prints bolts or prints as a whole piece, but they still move back and forth on their own."

To completely make one finger using the 3-D printer, Rich said it takes about six hours and to finish making the prosthetic hand after trials, he said it took about two and a half weeks.

Worland Middle School Principal Ryan Clark said, "Hyrum Rich is an advanced student in every way. He took summer school because I asked him to (not because he needed it), and I think he really enjoyed it. Whatever he touches, he makes better because he thinks outside the box."

Clark said what's unique about Rich is he doesn't hear no; he hears try again.


"A couple times we tried to print more fingers at one time so it (the process) could go faster and they can do it over night, but when we came back it would be a complete mess," Rich said. "One time we printed it earlier in the day so we could keep an eye on it, and about halfway through each print job the machine would twitch and knock over one of the fingers and mess up all the other ones."

After that attempt, Rich said they starting printing individual fingers one by one.

Another issue Rich encountered was the size of the hand. "We went to print it and (with the dimensions) it's too big of a project for the printer we had, so we went to the biggest size (the printer could go) and printed it there and got a couple rubber washers and put them in between."

"It was kind of a bigger challenge putting the nuts in because they were supposed to be for bigger bolts, the arm nearly shattered the hand when we did it," Rich said.

He added, "We had a couple of mess ups, but overall it was pretty successful," Rich said.

To make the hand work in its entirety, Rich said they only needed to buy fishing wire, a bungee cord and Velcro.

What'll they'll do with the hand

Rich said the one they designed is for someone who doesn't have a hand, but has a wrist, so it can be attached to their arm.

"The first models will be kept in class, but I'm hoping at some time if we can get it approved we'd actually be able to give it to someone in the community missing a limb. It might not work as good as the million dollar ones, but it's a lot cheaper and it works," Rich said.


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