3D printed Star Wars prosthetic arm

A Young American Received A 3D Printed Gift That Transformed His Life


Nearly every young boy is obsessed with Star Wars. But for Liam Porter of Augusta, Georgia, a Star Wars obsession may actually be warranted — he’s got a mechanical limb like many of the characters in the galaxy far, far away.

The 7-year-old was born without his left arm below the elbow, and his family has struggled for years to find a prosthetic that he could be proud of and is able to use with ease.

On Saturday, his life changed when Liam was greeted at his local movie theater by people wearing Star Wars costumes and given the best gift he could ever dream up: a functional new prosthetic arm like that of Luke Sykwalker himself. The prosthetic was made using 3D printing technology, according to the Augusta Chronicle, the newspaper that first reported the story.

Liam’s prosthetic is the brainchild of John Peterson, who recently acquired a 3D printer and was searching around the web for nifty projects he could do with it to occupy his time.

Peterson happened upon e-NABLE, an online community of 3D-printing geeks who volunteer their technology — and time — to make prosthetics for people in need, especially kids. Volunteers from the organization work with professional designers and engineers, and open-source schematics for free to anyone who wants them.

Using 3D technology has strong advantages in this case. Many insurance companies do not cover costly prostheses for children because they will quickly outgrow them. While a standard prosthetic hand for child may cost upward of $9,000, a 3D printed version can be made for just a fraction of that amount. It took Peterson about three months to make Liam’s new limb at a cost of about $300.

Along with the his new arm, the local group of costumed Star Wars enthusiasts presented Liam with a helmet and a “Friends of the Garrison” 501st Legion certificate, which makes his Stormtrooper appointment official.

The Force is certainly proud of Liam.


3D printed gifts for Christmas!

Malta 3D Printing Wishes Everybody a Merry Christmas!


Gift ideas for the 3D printing enthusiast

What to get for a loved one or friend who is addicted to 3D printing is a question I hope this list will answer. Here are some ideas for this holiday season!


A must for anyone with a FDM/FFF based 3D printer. If you don’t know the type of printer the person has I am sure they would gladly tell you, but be sly to and ask what kind of filament they like to use. Do they prefer ABS or PLA? Is there a specific brand they like? Some printers come with their own proprietary system, such the latest Makerbots, Cube 3dDprinters along with a few others currently on the market. One piece of advice: Chinese filament manufacturers are not known across the board for being of high quality and might jam printers. Stay with sellers outside of China and that have a good reputation – in this case,  you get what you pay for.


Now if they have a DLP/SLA based 3D printer, you need to invest liquid resins. This one can be a little trickier. Some function better than others depending on the model. The best way for this is to find out the brand name of the printer and go to that manufacturer’s website to check the material requirements.

Printbed supplies

Many 3D printer users use something to put on their printbed. Here are two great items you can get for them. Blue painters tape and white glue sticks, the type you used in elementary school. They are so cheap you could get them both. These two items help the print stick to the bed when it prints and users can never have too many of them.


These are what users call nuts, screws bolts that are used in the print after it is done. Any easy way to take care of this is to get them a large variety pack with a bunch of nuts, bolts, screws, and even ball bearings. You can ask them again on the sly, what do they like to use?


There are educational resources you can purchase and that are hugely beneficial. There are books for people who want to learn to use the printer to books on ether how to make a 3D printer or which 3D printer to buy. Then there are books on how to use the software to make 3dDprintable objects. Amazon is great to see what books have the best ratings from users. Make sure you know what your printer user need first. Sometimes redundancy is not always the best policy. Check out Hod Lipson’s Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing.


Then there are some online resources. Online tutoring for software users. Two of the best is Digital Tutors and Lynda.com. Both of these are now subscription based. Have online videos done by the pros on many topics. Including 3D printing software that is used in 3D printing.

3D printers

Maybe they love the idea of 3D printing and want someone special to help them get started with the new hobby.  Two great low cost options are  Makerfarm i3 kit and the Printrbot simple metal.

The Printrbot Metal Simple comes in ether as a kit to be put together or pre-built an almost ready to use out of the box. The costs $539.00 and the ready built printer costs $599.00. It is fairly easy to set up and run and used PLA filament and Printrbot also sells that as well. This would be a great kit for your kid with adult supervision and a young teenager as a starter printer. Great for people of all ages.

The Makerfarm i3 comes only in kit form in two build size. This printer is based on the popular Reprap Prusa i3 design. The kit sizes are as follows: Prusa 12″ i3v Kit for $670.00 and the Prusa 10″ i3v Kit for $620.00. This kit can be together in a few hours and has how-to videos on how to put together these kits. This kit might be a little hard for your young 3D printer lover and might need your assistance in assembling it.

Both of these printer makers have great customer service and are open source, makinng them an easy platform to keep upgrading as your 3D printer lover advances in his or her knowledge.

You no doubt make your 3D printing enthusiast a happy camper this season with these ideas. Search around, you might come up even more ideas that are not mentioned in this article. When you find that magical 3D printing gift, please share in the comments section below – would love to see all the ideas you guys come up with!

by Mike Grauer Jr. | Nov 26 2014 , 12:21:28