Our Process

Discovering the Club

Most families learn about The Helping Hand Project through web searches or through social media. Sometimes, we get referrals from news stories. Some parents have learned about us through alumni publications from the schools where we have chapters.

Taking Measurements and Designing

Due to the complexity of creating a custom designed, 3D printed hand for children with varying upper limb deformities, the NCSU chapter of the Helping Hand Project brings children to NC State to get more accurate measurements of the child’s hand, their arm, and the ways in which they use the limb that they were born with. When the families get here, the support group working on the project welcomes them and sets up measurement tools and the checklists/forms.The child receives a short tour of Centennial campus (including the Hunt Library)  and then the measurements are taken. Different measurements are taken of the wrist, palm, existing fingers, and forearm of the child and pictures are taken with reference to a ruled pad. When taking measurements the team attempts to interact with the children to get to know them. Our hope is to learn what they enjoy so the next time they 

come we can have activities specifically planned for each child. These measurements are taken into consideration when designing the hand in a 3D CAD program called SolidWorks. Hand designs are taken from Enabling the Future, a global network of volunteers that post open source hand designs for anybody to use. These designs are constantly updated by individual users who edit them just as NC State does. 


Printing the Hands

Once a print request is sent in, we look at the specifications given by the case design team. We look at what colors the team thinks the child wants, and what type of material would best suit the hand. If we want a more flexible hand, we use TPU NinjaFlex filament to print with, but if we want a harder, sturdier hand, we choose PLA plastic. Then, we print the hand with our BCN3D Sigma Dual-Extrusion 3D Printer over the next ~12-18 hours, using the given specifications, and deliver the hand to the team the next week to assemble.


Teams Assembling the Hands

After designing their hand, NC State case teams will submit their file for printing and receive it shortly after. Teams follow the protocol provided with the hand designs to assemble the various parts of the hands. While the majority of the hand is 3D printed, other materials are used to ensure that the hand functions properly for as long as possible. These materials involve screws to hold line tensioners in place, fishing line to provide tension on the fingers and produce the movement of the hand, and dental rubber bands to keep the fingers elongated when not in use.



Receiving the Hands

Once the hand is assembled and ready to go, it is delivered to the child. Our goal is that the child gets a self confidence boost from receiving a device. The child goes from having a limb difference that can make them feel different to having a device that makes them feel cool or special in a positive way. We hope that parents appreciate finding an organization that is devoted to helping their child with a limb difference.