Rapid Prototyping a Miracle: A New Hand for a 4 Year Old


Four-year-old Cameron Haight from North Carolina, US was born with fused fingers on his right hand. However, he did not let this impairment impede him from creating something absolutely incredible. With the help of rapid prototyping technology, he has helped create the perfect solution for himself and other children with limb disabilities. Nine 3D printed limbs have been made, which can change the world for children like Cameron.


Cameron’s Early Days

At first glance, Cameron Haight will not seem very different from an average four-year-old. This very active child spends his time running around, playing and causing mischief like anyone else his age. However, life is a little different for him. Cameron was born with a condition called amniotic band syndrome. This caused the digits of his right hand to fuse together when he was in his mother’s womb. By the tender age of four, little Cameron had undergone more than fifteen operations. Yet, he was still not capable of performing certain hand functions due to the lack of nimbleness. However, after he was fitted with the 3D printed hand around six months ago, the tiny tot could soon do much more with his hand and take part in many activities.


The Change

According to little Cameron’s mother Sarah, this determined four-year-old wanted the rapid prototyping solution for his hand so that he could ride his bicycle properly. When he was finally fitted with the prosthetic hand, his mother could see his personality blossom. She noticed that the child had become confident in showing his cool new hand to his friends rather than hiding his fingers in his pockets. After he was fitted with the new hand, Cameron became a different person altogether, opening up to the world and engaging in new activities. However, this enthusiastic little boy had something else in mind. Soon after he had learned how to ride a bicycle properly, he began to think about how he could help others in a similar situation as him.


A Kind Gesture

Setting an example for everyone around him, Cameron took the decision of helping create 3D printed hands with the help of rapid prototyping. This he did in order to help other children who are suffering from disabilities so that they can enjoy life just the way Cameron is. Cameron’s mother Sarah initially did print some extra hands for her son when the first one was out of order. This inspired the little boy to get involved in the process of rapid prototyping of these hands- this time to help other children. According to his mother, the little boy is a natural when it comes to rapid prototyping. Even though he is only four years old he has really gotten the hang of it. Cameron simply goes on the printer, searches out the files, sizes them, scales them and prints the parts. After that, the parts are assembled. Watching Cameron in action is actually fun, says his mother.

His mother says that the rapid prototyping process for each hand takes from six to twelve hours, a long time for the family. Yet Cameron’s enthusiasm does not waver for even a second. The inquisitive little boy will sometimes watch the entire process of rapid prototyping with rapt attention. Though each new hand is equally exciting for Cameron, the success story first began when he received his own 3D printed hand. This was provided by the volunteers over at e-NABLE; a rapid prototyping organization that specializes in 3D printed prosthetics. His mother Sarah stumbled upon them when she was searching for available options for Cameron on the internet. Their simple, 3D printable hands were priced at just $25; hence Sarah contacted them and received the hand created by them. Cameron’s first hand was inspired by the orange and blue color combination of Finding Nemo, made by one of the volunteers of e-NABLE.


An Agent of Change

After Cameron received and got fitted with his first hand, he could take part in many different activities such as holding a water gun, riding a bike and helping his father put up Christmas decorations. Being able to do these things inspired the child to share his happiness with others by getting involved in the process of rapid prototyping himself. He even went as far as taking steps to make sure that each recipient of a 3D printed limb is fully satisfied with it. Sarah tells us that every time a new hand is in production; Cameron makes it a point to enquire whether the hand is for a boy or a girl and what color they want it to be. The prosthetic hand is then taken to a limb difference meeting, where the young boy explains how the hand is to be used, showing the other child how the mechanism can work for them.

At a tender age of four, Cameron is definitely one of the youngest in the world to have taken part in the rapid prototyping of prostheses for children with limb differences, a gesture that has been appreciated by e-NABLE. Jen Owen, a volunteer for the organization says that Cameron is one of the youngest to be doing this with a parent and giving the gift of artificial hands to other children. When both parties have finished assembling the hand, they have not just made a fun toy to play with or to put up on the shelf, rather something that can help the other person who needs a bit of assistance to perform certain activities that become easier for them with the improved grip.

Watching Cameron being able to grasp rapid prototyping has made Sarah immensely proud, though she is the one who gets the most satisfaction from watching her son do selfless things for less privileged people. She says that is it indeed incredible to know that her son is trying to change other people lives for the better just like his own was changed. We sure hope that this tiny tot finds a way for more and more children just like him, and shines in the rapid prototyping scene.


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