High school student learns to use 3-D printer to make an arm for his father

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO – Robbie Frei wanted to give his dad a hand.

So, he built him an arm.

“I decided to create a 3D printed costumed scanned prosthetic arm for my dad who is an amputee,” says Robbie Frei, 3D Arm Maker.

The Priory High School senior, who wants to go into robotics in college, designed a term long three-month thesis project.

His mission, to build a 3-D printed arm for his father injured in an RPG attack in 2003 in Iraq.

But first, he created an arm adapter for the Nintendo Switch.

“When my dad was injured in the Marines he wasn`t able to play video games with us for about 10-years and after I created that 3-D printed adapter he was able to play with us full speed,” says Frei.

Soon Frei was fine-tuning his designs, creating a custom scanned prosthetic, modeled after his dad`s left hand.

The high school senior, mirrored the scan, creating a right-handed model that could throw a ball

“He knows how to get projects done and come up with amazing things,” says Derek Ward, Robotics Advisor Priory.  “He`s been on the robotics team for six years now.  So, just to watch him go from a 7th grader to a 12th grader, not surprised he can pull something like this off.”

After a lot of trial and error, Frei figured out a way to craft all the parts on the three-dimensional printer, constructing a design in which his dad controls the finger movements.

Frei is a National Merit finalist who credits mathematics for helping him understand a challenge and work towards a solution.

“As soon as I start to test different alternatives I start to narrow in on something,” says Frei.  “It`s sort of more discovery than inventing in a way.”

The high schooler finding a high-tech solution, and the 3-D printed tendons and fingers that connect a father and son.

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