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Christian Herman is a rather precocious seventh-grader in Florida who used 3D design and printing to create a device which attaches to a pencil to aid people with their penmanship.

With the help of Scott Johnson, an instructional design engineer at Florida Polytechnic University, Herman built a device he calls the Light-Up Pencil Grip. It’s essentially a piece that fits over a pencil with a small flashlight that has grooves to guide the finger position for writers. If the penmanship student is gripping the device and the pencil correctly, the flashlight lights up to let them know.

Christian’s mom, Sherry Herman, says he began the project with a set of drawings, then moved to clay models and then 3D printed prototypes.Christian Herman and Scott Johnson

The Light-Up Pencil Grip began as a science fair project, and Herman polled his teachers to find out what the main challenges his classmates faced in their studies. When the teachers told him that the major problem was illegible handwriting, he set to work to help solve the problem.

After a series of tests with students to confirm the problem, Herman built his initial clay models and found that the material available for the only 3D printer he had access to was far too stiff to build the tool he had in mind.

“The buttons were kind of difficult for them (students) to press down on, but they could still use it,” Herman says.

A meeting with Scott Johnson and Tom Hull at FPU showed him that it was possible to use flexible, pliable filament to realize his design, and he was thrilled with the discovery.

“My mom and I did some research and learned Florida Poly has the biggest MakerBot 3D Printing Lab in the country,” Herman noted of the process after discovering his school’s 3D printers weren’t ideal for the project. “The lab team was really welcoming and excited to help me perfect my product.”

He now has a dozen of his devices complete and he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a plan to manufacture them in numbers.

For all his hard work, Herman took home the Polk Regional Science and Engineering Fair top prize and he plans to enter it in the state science fair as well.tumblr_inline_nn9zlvl0LA1sral4f_540

“I identified a problem, and designed this product to solve the problem,” Herman says of his efforts. “With the help of an engineer at Florida Polytechnic University, I was able to perfect my design. It’s a 3D printed pencil grip that lights up, which helps children with handwriting, and the elderly and therapy patients with grasping.”

The triangular, 3D printed pencil grip can be used on both the left and right hands.

Herman says, should the campaign be successful, he intends to pay the $9,000 cost of a full patent to replace the provisional patent he’s already taken out on the grip. He also plans to purchase two 3D printers to produce more of his designs. Herman plans to used the funds to establish a small business and purchase a pair of printers, purchase flexible filament, extra printer parts, marketing and distribution costs and to attend regional trade shows.

The Kickstarter campaign extends through May 22nd, with a goal to raise $35,000.

What do you think of Christian Herman’s penmanship training device? Let us know in the Penmanship Training Device forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the Kickstarter campaign video below.

christian herman and scott johnson photo credit ernst peters the ledger

Christian Herman and Scott Johnson pose at the FTU MakerBot lab with Herman’s prototypes. (Photo Credit: Ernst Peters, The Ledger

 

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