Baltimore Orioles fans got quite a treat before Monday's Major League Baseball game between the Orioles and the Oakland Athletics. Hailey Dawson, an adorable 5-year-old Orioles fan, threw out the first pitch with her custom-made, 3D-printed robotic hand.
Hailey has Poland syndrome, a disorder that causes children to be born with either missing or abnormal muscles on one side of the chest wall. Many with Poland syndrome -- including Hailey -- are also born with abnormalities of the hand, making it difficult or impossible to use their hands without prosthetics.
Prosthetics aren't cheap -- the functional myoelectric hands can cost tens of thousands of dollars -- especially when they need to be replaced several times as a child grows. So, Hailey's family turned to the engineering department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) for help.
The faculty and students in the department delivered, designing and 3D-printing a robotic hand that lets Hailey do things like grip and throw a baseball, a talent she was more than happy to show off at Monday night's game.
Hailey's hand is based on the Flexy-Hand 2 project, and anyone can download plans for the customizable hand on Thingiverse, a site for discovering and sharing 3D-printed objects. The UNLV engineering department customized the Flexy-Hand for Hailey's needs and size.
Hailey's already on her third hand -- the first one needed repairs and was then too small, and the second one accidentally broke when Hailey's mother, Yong, was replacing the fishing line that functions as retractors for the fingers. The UNLV team is already working on her fourth, adding robotic functionality with each new iteration to make her arm even better.
In the video below, you can see that functionality in action as Hailey uses her custom Orioles-themed robot hand to throw out the first pitch. The pitch was caught by Hailey's favorite player, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.
If you want to see even more about Hailey's adventures with her 3D-printed robot hand, you can check out some images from her trip on the Haileys_Hand Instagram page.
Because a hand that awesome definitely has to have its own Instagram account.
(Via ESPN W)