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Pioneering Leeds school prints 3D hands for amputees worldwide

Students at a specialist school in Leeds are using the latest technology to print prosthetic hands for people in need across the world.

Young people at UTC Leeds, the first school in the Leeds City Region to provide high quality academic and technical training focused on the advanced engineering and high-tech manufacturing sector, are using the school’s state of the art 3D printers to print the hands.

The prosthetic hands will be couriered to a global charity called Enable the Future and distributed to adults and children in countries such as Haiti, South Africa and Ghana as well as in the UK. After the first batch of hands are delivered, the students will receive bespoke measurements meaning each future hand can be perfectly tailored to its recipient.

“We’re making hands using the Ultimaker 3D printers but very soon we hope to start printing prosthetics which can be attached at the elbow,” said principal Mark Kennedy.

“The project is phenomenal and means UTC Leeds students can put their new 3D printing skills to the test in the most remarkable of ways. Recipients are often born with missing fingers, or have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster. These 3D hands and arms can make once impossible tasks possible. Simple things like holding a ball, tying a shoelace or riding a bike suddenly become possible. They are lifechanging devices and this is very much the healthcare of the future.”

The project, led by the school’s head of Engineering Bradley Mellor is one of a number of “real life”projects students undertake. Other pupils have been working with some of the schools 80 employer partners, companies such as Agfa, Sound Leisure and Siemens.

“The UTC is all about getting young people on the right path towards exciting and rewarding careers in engineering and industry,” said Mr Mellor.

“We’re combining technical, practical and academic learning and offering students the opportunity to work on life-changing projects.

Year 10 and Year 12 students who are interested in joining the school in September are invited to an Open Day event on March 1 at UTC Leeds. Employers, students and teachers will be on hand to discuss the opportunities and how to apply. The University of Leeds, another partner at the Hunslet Road school will also be attending.

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