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Students Use 3-D Printer To Make Patient A Prosthetic Hand

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - A 3-D printer can model in plastic anything drawn on a computer.  With that in mind, three Mansfield High School students decided they'd use a 3-D printer to give someone a hand -- literally.

"Basically, what we wanted to do is try to think of a way to help people," explained high school junior Nke Ebolum. "So what we wanted to do is make a prosthetic hand that would work with touch screen."

Houston-area resident Jayme Sims lost the fingers of his right hand in a wood chipper. Nothing is easy for Sims now. Things like writing, picking up grocery bags, and starting the car are all challenges.

"You know, it's difficult to scratch my dog. The simple things," he said.

The North Texas students modified designs found online, tailored it for Sims' hand, and printed the parts. It was a Godsend for Sims who had found a medical prosthetic to be far too expensive. "It's north of $20,000 to do something like that," Sims said.

So, what about the cost for the hand the students made? "This one was under $50," Ebolum said.

Break a finger on this hand and it costs just pennies to print a new one. "Most of the cost doesn't come from the plastic, it comes from the nuts and bolts."

The students presented Sims with his new hand Wednesday. He thanked them with a huge smile and a handshake. Sims said, "You know something like this will help me get back something I thought I'd lost forever."

For $50 the students designed an affordable hand that can change lives.

"To be able to give him this and to be able to help him, to give him something to benefit him for the rest of his life it's just powerful," Ebolum said humbly. "It's pretty powerful."

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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