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ThinkRevolutionist: The Helping Hand Project

12 months. 12 lives changed forever.
June 22, 2016

Since The Helping Hand Project began as a student-led venture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, demand for its 3D-printed hands has outstripped supply. Outdated technology, including older model 3D printers, had slowed the delivery of prosthetic hands to children in need.

At the start of 2015, that all began to change. After seeing The HHP’s story on the local news, the Lenovo Workstation team reached out to Jeff Powell, Founder of The HPP, and provided him a new ThinkStation P500 and arranged for a SOLIDWORKS suite for his system. Just as important, Lenovo offered to print the hands on its own faster and more accurate 3D printer. The process goes something like this: The HHP shares its CAD files with Lenovo, The HPP shares the hands’ specs based on each child’s needs, and finally, Lenovo’s mechanical engineers go to work. Having Lenovo’s engineers onboard cuts the printing time down substantially, allowing the children to get their hands faster.

Over the past 12 months, 12 new hands have been printed, meaning 12 children can live easier, more fulfilling lives. Never satisfied, The HHP plans to ramp up this number as quickly as possible. And come this fall, The HHP will invite some of the children who’ve received prosthetic hands to meet the Lenovo team for the first time. It promises to be like a family reunion – one that redefines what an extended family can be.

Work that goes beyond the day-to-day

In 18 to 24 hours, a childhood can be transformed. That’s how long it takes for Lenovo’s 3D printers to print prosthetic hands. With an STL file provided by The HHP, Lenovo mechanical engineer Rodrigo Samper uses his mobile ThinkStation W550s (Intel i7-5600U CPU at 2.6Ghz, NVIDIA® Quadro® K620M GPU) running Stratasys Insight 10.4 software to print the hands. It’s a task Rodrigo gladly performs outside of his regular workday, because it’s the kind of work that matters most.


“It is very rewarding to help kids who need prosthetics, making their lives easier.” – Rodrigo Samper, Lenovo Mechanical Engineer