Navy Vet Builds Prosthetic Hand Using Tools From Home Depot

Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 04:54 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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Less than a year after having three fingers amputated, Howard Kamarata can now pick up water bottles and play cards using a prosthetic hand he fashioned with a few items purchased at Home Depot, a 3-D printer and friend, he tells Fox News. 

"We just needed to get a glove, some string, a fishing line and some glue," Howard Kamarata, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is a pipe fitter by trade, says of the items he and his friend, Casey Barnett needed to construct a new hand.

Story continues below video.

Last October, he was working on an outdoor project when he lost control of an electric miter saw he was using and his left hand slipped into the blade. He lost four of his fingers above the knuckles.

Kamarata told Fox 10 in Phoenix that he considered buying a prosthetic but he could not afford the cost. So, he sought out his Barnett's help. 

"A few months earlier, I had seen a video online of someone who made a hand for a child. I thought it was really cool. I did some more research, and found someone who had made a design that would work for Howard. As a design engineer, I was interested in 3-D printing.

Maybe this was an opportunity for me to learn more." Barnett, who is employed as an industrial designer explained to 

The notion of using a 3-D printer to create an artificial limb is not that extraordinary. In May, three biomedical engineering students from the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri spent $200 to build a robotic prosthetic arm for a 13-year-old girl using a 3-D printer, reports IFLScience. 

"3-D printers allow you to customize in ways we never could before. You can print customized prosthetics specialized for one person. This reduces cost because you produce them to order, instead of mass producing them and then sizing them," John Rieffel, an assistant professor of computer science at Union College in Schenectady, New York, tells US News & World Report. 

Kamarata, a Navy veteran, told Fox News that he is not seeking to get the prosthetic hand onto the market, instead he wants to give it away to veterans or give their handiwork to a company that will improve and refine it.

Barnett and Kamarata are now working with the RecFX Foundation, an organization which serves the dependent children of members of the military. The foundation offers camps, programs, counseling, education and benevolence services for the children and their families. 

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