Baylee Abbott is a pretty average 11 year old who likes singing and dancing. Yet she’s also on a mission to teach people about how they should treat those with disabilities, and she’s using her 3D printed bionic hand to do it.
Baylee has congenital limb abnormalities. Her right hand has a thumb and her next three fingers are short and stop before the knuckle. Her left foot is missing past the ankle and her right foot misses full toes.
Having worn prosthetics since she was two, Baylee has been used to people staring and pointing, even if the prosthetics became so lifelike and real she could even paint her nails. Eventually she decided to give a talk at school explaining to her fellow pupils what it felt like to be stared at and why they should come and ask question instead.
That talk led to work with the charity Reach, where she found out about Enabling the Future. The website offers children dimensions and designs for prosthetic limbs which can be printed using a 3D printer. Her dad, Jason, discovered DoESLiverpool, home to a 3D printer in the community of makers and entrepreneurs on Liverpool’s Hanover Street.
The hand - from a design sometimes called “the Raptor hand” - is bright pink with dark blue fingers and has been modified to allow Baylee to move her fingers and grip objects.
She says, “I first heard about 3D printing at the Reach AGM last year. I met a man who had a bionic hand which could pick things up and shake hands. He could also spin it around 360 degrees. It looked really cool but the man told us how it had changed his life and how he had gone from being someone with no hope to a new person, with a real excitement about life”.
Working with DoESLiverpool to print the first hand was trial and error, explains Adrian McEwen from the organisation. “It can take several hours and the designs allow you to print different components which then need to be fixed together. The hand Baylee wears is actually the second design as the first didn’t allow her to grip properly, but the new one has four fingers and a thumb”.
Using the 3D printer to create new limbs at DoESLiverpool features in our upcoming exhibition Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing. As part of the exhibition, DoES will be hosting a series of workshops inspired by Baylee, which will involve measuring people for a prosthesis and then inviting them to take part in an assembly workshop to actually build the hands.
Adrian says, “This is a rapidly developing area of prosthetics as 3D technology enables people to take designs from around the world and create new limbs to meet their needs. As materials develop and evolve we’ll see people being able to create new prosthetics in their own homes that are more flexible and look real”.
Find out more about Bionic Baylee at bionicbaylee.com
Build Your Own: Tools for Sharing opens this Thursday, 4 June. Visit doesliverpool.com or fact.co.uk to find out about the dates for measuring and assembly workshops.