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  • Monday, October 26, 2015
    BHS' 3D printer staying busy with 'hand' projects
    It’s been almost a year since a Brenham boy received a red-and-black prosthetic hand built on a 3D printer at Brenham High School.
    And more complex projects are in the works, including a robotic arm with sensors and tiny motors.
    Kaedon Olsen received a hand built by Brenham High School students in December last year.
    Olsen was born without a right hand when his umbilical cord was wrapped around his arm during pregnancy.
    Computer science teacher Trenton Hall and his students built Kaedon his hand with the school’s old 3D printer.
    His latest version was constructed on a new printer with more features purchased entirely with donations, including $14,000 donated by the local Masonic Lodge.
    “We built Kaedon a new one in the spring to replace the other one since he was already starting to outgrow it,” said Hall. “This summer we purchased a new higher quality printer that gave us more options.”
    Kaedon’s’ mother Jeanette Olsen said, “He’s doing pretty good with his hand. He uses it when he wants to. That was the plan from the beginning.
    “Some days he wants to wear and some days he doesn’t want to wear it.”
    Hall said, “Kaedon’s new hand is slightly different from the first one we made. W pretty much had to use on everything or find bolts or something to make it fit.
    “With this design, its been updated some. It made it easier to print this time.”
    Hall and his students are also working on several other projects.
    “Just this week, we are putting the finishing touches on a hand for a boy living in Arizona,” he said. “We plan on sending it out early next week.
    “We are also working on a partial hand for a boy living in Utah who lost two fingers in a lawnmower accident. We have a longer-term project to built a robotic arm for a girl living here in Brenham.
    “It will consist of an arm and hand that is controlled using muscle sensors attached to her bicep. The electrical and programming work is all done. It’s the designing and printing of the structure that takes so long.”
    Hall said the current projects were taken on after he was contacted.
    “We really haven’t sought anybody out. Pretty much everyone came to us,” he said.
    “The young boy who lives in Arizona has a working thumb so it’s similar to Kaedon’s. He’s missing his fingers that didn’t develop, so we left a thumb hole so he can use his own thumb,” said Hall.
    Working with new more powerful printer “is good and bad,” he said.
    “It’s got some capabilities the other one doesn’t have, but at the same time it’s still complex. There’s a lot more that can go wrong and a lot of things we have to figure out, a lot of tweaks to it,” Hall said.
    But even that serves as training for students.
    “I probably spent more time fixing it then working on it,” said Zachary Taylor, a senior in Hall’s class. “It works really well when it’s all working.”
    Hall said the new printer has more powerful features.
    “The little boy who lives in Arizona likes the video game MineCraft, so the students customized it for him,” he said.