By David Esteppe
When eight-year-old Nataniel Guilmart began sharing that his current prosthetic hand was feeling uncomfortable it was apparent that he might need a new one. A distant family relation to Greenbrier East High School’s (GEHS) teacher of the year Kevin Warfield reached out to the engineering class for help after hearing about the work being done in Warfield’s department.
GEHS agreed to help.
It is not cost-feasible to fit children with advanced prosthetic devices as they outgrow them in months. Guilmart travelled from his home in Dewitt. VA, last Monday and met with the team of students who would be working on his new hand. The students took all of the necessary measurements to not only 3D print a new prosthetic, they were also planned to improve the appearance and function for Guilmart.
The snowstorm brought closings of Greenbrier schools for the next three days. The students of Warfiled’s class were not going to let Guilmart down because of school not being in session. Connor Morgan took the program and 3D printer home after school Monday to ensure production was underway. And though school was still cancelled on Thursday. Morgan and his classmates Erin and Sarah Leslie, Carlton Wykle and Taylor Lewis showed up with Warfield to present Guilmart with the new hand, and to make a few minor adjustments after the fitting.
Lewis explained, “After the fitting we began the process of 3D printing the improved hand, which we would actually give to Nataniel. We increased the size of the final hand from 78 percent to 80 percent for comfort. We changed the percentage of the hand infill to 50 percent, which means that the inside of the hand is 50 percent plastic and 50 percent air. To improve the overall hand aesthetics, we rotated certain parts of the hand on the build plate so when printing the hand, the part where the printed prosthetic begins on Nataniel is not as noticeable and intrusive.” The new hand also has fewer cables and flexible filaments have been added to cause the recoil, which is the fingers and hand straightening back up after flexion.
Guilmart simply enchants a room with his big bright eyes and megawatt smile. He easily expressed his gratitude for the help the students were providing him by building the new hand, and even improving upon his old model. Some of his aspirations include “becoming a governor. a train engineer, a police officer and a veterinarian.”