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John Peterson, Liam Porter and the members of the 501st (image source: John Peterson)

Growing up as a youngster who is missing an arm can be tough at times. If it isn’t the barrage of questions that are thrown at you about your missing arm, it is the frustration and difficulty of simple tasks such as playing catch, buttoning a shirt, or clapping your hands, that can get you down. However, for one boy named Liam, from Augusta, Georgia, he was always quite a trooper when it came to overcoming these frustrations. In fact, “trooper” might be the perfect word to describe 7-year-old Liam Porter, who is an huge fan of the Clone Troopers from Star Wars.

Designing the arm

Designing the arm

This 7-year-old boy was in for the surprise of his life as he exited a movie theater this past Saturday. Upon leaving a movie that he had just saw with friends, Liam was greeted by the Imperial Stormtroopers, who then lead him to a private area within the theater, where he was presented with something that may just change his life forever. That something was a 3D printed prosthetic arm that looked like a Clone Trooper arm.

Designed and 3D printed by John Peterson, a member of the volunteer 3D printed prosthetic group, e-NABLE, it looks almost exactly like a real Clone Trooper arm. Liam, who was extremely surprised was also presented with a helmet to go along with his arm. After he was shown by Peterson how to operate his cool new appendage, he walked through the theater, with all of the attention focused on him. There were cameras as well as many curious onlookers watching as this little boy had gained something he had never had before; the use of two arms, and the invitation to join the 501st Legion —  a fan-based group of people dedicated to the construction and wearing of replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor.

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Liam was born with a birth defect, called Amniotic Band Syndrome, which is more common than most people think. The majority of children born without partial upper extremities suffer from this same defect.

clonetrooper5Peterson, the arm’s creator, joined e-Nable a while back and because he also lives in Augusta, Georgia, was matched up with Liam. He found out that Liam really wanted a Clone Trooper arm, so he decided to use one of the readily available e-NABLE designs to create just that for the boy. Recently, Peterson went to a MakerFaire in Atlanta, Gerogia, where he met with some of the “501st’s” who learned of Liam’s story and insisted that they be on hand when the arm is presented to him. All in all, the entire process of presenting the arm to Liam could not have gone any better.

Undoubtedly, Liam will get quite the attention from his peers when he goes back to school this week, and this time it will be questions that he will eagerly look forward to answering.

“We’re going to have to tell the whole school about this,” said Liam’s friend Jacob Yawn, to the Augusta Chronicle.

Liam’s mother seems to be just as happy, as Liam about his new arm.

“From the beginning, he had to find a different way to kind of do everything,” explained Liam’s mother. “He’s done very very well with it, but there are some things that took a little time (getting used to). Simple things like pulling up your pants or buttoning your shirt are actually a lot more difficult when you only have one hand. This will make things a little bit easier.”

This is just one more great example of how e-NABLE, through the use of 3D printing technology, is making children’s lives better all over the world. As for John Peterson, he’s not stopping here. He will work with Liam to make modifications to his hand, so that they can ensure that it is just the right fit. Peterson is also working on other 3D printed prosthetic hands including a Green Lantern themed hand.

What do you think about Liam’s new Clone Trooper arm? Discuss in the 3D Printed Clone Trooper Prosthetic Arm forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of Liam being presented with his new arm.

[Source: John Peterson | Augusta Chronicle | WFXG]
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