Building an adapter for a trumpet player with an amputation

Kalamazoo, Michigan engineers create an adapter to help a young student play the trumpet.

Ana Lennen lost her left hand in third grade but didn’t let the loss of a limb slow her down. Engineers from Laser Abilities and Keystone Solutions worked with her to build a device that will aid in playing the trumpet.

Ana’s basic philosophy was to adapt with life challenges and deal with any problems. Holding and playing the trumpet with one hand was difficult. The engineers designed a component that would make band life a little easier for the Paw Paw, Michigan student.

The trumpet was scanned along with Ana’s residual limb to give the designers a baseline. Next an adapter was designed that snapped onto the trumpet and would fit onto her arm. A model of the adapter was built using a 3d printer and then post-processed.

3d printing of the piece took twenty three hours in the 3d printer and then an hour of cleaning and sanding. The adapter in the video is black and looks glossy and smooth. As a 3d printed component the surface finish is far superior to most parts I’ve seen from conventional printing.

3d printing is becoming a more prominent tool in the orthotics and prosthetic fields, and it’s very promising to see the effect that one project can have on one student. Projects like this one along with Project Daniel and other robotic hand programs are building more customized pieces for individual users.

This news video tells us that Ana’s band teacher found an improvement in her trumpet playing, but the video also makes it abundantly clear that her greatest attribute is a great attitude about life. Ana brought the story to the attention of the WWMT news team to let other people in her position know that anything is possible.

Images courtesy of Mike Spray,