Five years ago, when Cameron Haight was born, it was discovered that he had Amniotic Band Syndrome, which caused his fingers and toes to be webbed, deformed, and a few to be amputated. Now five years old, Cameron is doing just fine with his limb differences – and he’s giving a lot of his own time and energy to ensure that other kids do just fine with their own limb differences as well.
Cameron was gifted with a 3D printed hand, but after a while it broke, so he and his mother, Sarah, began 3D printing new parts to give him a working prosthetic hand again. They began 3D printing in 2016, when Cameron wanted to learn how to ride a bike, and they didn’t stop there – they continued to 3D print e-NABLE hands for other children who needed them. After a while, though, it became clear that many children needed more than the hands that could be found on the site. Kids would do fine with the hands for gross motor functions, said Sarah, but not so well with fine motor skills, such as grasping pencils, so Cameron decided to create his own design.
“Cam designed this little device that helps hold the writing instrument in a proper position in the 3D printed hand,” explained Sarah. “He can still close the hand around the pencil for extra control, allowing him to write as if he had all of his fingers. I can sit for hours trying to come up with an idea and draw a blank, but when I ask Cam, he is just able to come up with ideas right away – I guess that’s where he has an advantage over me. He’s living with a limb difference and using the hand almost daily, so he knows what things will be helpful.”
Cameron spent about 40 minutes on the drawing of his design, then he and his mother tweaked it over a couple of days and transferred it into design software; the whole process took about a week. Cameron named the design the Invention Tool 5000, because “you use your imagination to do different things with it” and it’s “like a tool because it helps kids without hands do things easier.” The 5000 part is because he is five years old; he was clear that he didn’t want the tool to be called the Invention Tool 3000, lest anyone think he is only three.
The tool can be used for more than holding a pencil – it can also hold a cell phone, scissors, kitchen tools, and even a Nerf gun. Cameron plans to try it as a swimming paddle when the pool opens up.
“Cam absolutely loves 3D design, there are some days where he talks about 3D printing nonstop and then other days when he’s a normal kid who just wants to play in the dirt,” said Sarah. “We are now up to 44 devices we have printed, assembled and shipped. We have another six kids and one adult on the waiting list who we are going back and forth getting measurements for and confirming final details before getting started on their custom devices.”
The Haights have set up a non-profit called Different Heroes to help raise money for their 3D printed hands as well as to support people with limb differences in other ways. Cameron has been helped immensely by having his own 3D printed hand, which he calls his “robot hand”; he no longer tries to cover his more severely damaged hand when around other people. He’s become quite good at 3D printing, too.
“He’s only five years old now, but he’s really good at it, he goes on the printer, finds the files, sizes, scales and prints them, then we assemble them – it’s really fun to watch him in action,” said Sarah. “He’s the youngest one 3D printing hands of all the others that we’ve heard of and he loves putting them together as well. His favorite parts are printing the hands, watching the printer work away, and packing the hands up for others with special notes, gifts, stickers. The parts can take between six and 12 hours to print, per piece, but he will sit and watch it sometimes for a full six hours or more. Whenever we’re printing parts for other children he’s constantly asking whether it’s for a boy or a girl, what colour they want and really enjoys learning where the other kids are from.”
You can learn more about Cameron’s story here.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source/Images: Sarah Haight/Caters News]