Quitman student’s 3D creation helps amputee play musical instrument

11th grade clarinet player, Nehemiah Faulkner, creates a 3D printed arm holder for incoming freshman mellophone player, Cole Ochoa, with a residual limb.
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 12:25 PM CDT
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QUITMAN, Texas (KLTV) - When 9th grade French Horn player Cole Ochoa signed up for marching band during the Spring 2023 semester, he found out he had to switch instruments on the field.

During marching season, he switches to an instrument called the mellophone, a bell front instrument resembling a larger trumpet. Both hands are needed to hold the instrument on the field and with Ochoa missing his right hand, his band director quickly worked to find a solution.

““I just used to hold it up with one hand and I’d put my arm under it,” Ochoa said. “Until my band director and Nehemiah came up with an idea.”

Quitman ISD Band Director Michael Barron collaborated with other teachers in the district to create a gadget that could help hold the instrument while moving on the field. Barron drew inspiration for the gadget from his own experience marching with Drum Corps International and then later found another while at a marching band competition.

After gathering the parts needed for the tool, he was able to collaborate with high school engineering teacher David Cross, who teaches students how to use the school’s 3D printers.

“For us to be able to put that whole system together and being able to use the resources Quitman provides...just the access to everything just knowing that I’m a part of a school district that helps... that’s just wonderful.”

The printers were typically used to create trinkets and small desk toy for the teachers on campus, and he knew this would be a different way to use the 3D printers to good use.

“Most of the time when I 3D print stuff it was to make decorations and stuff,” 11th grader Nehemiah Faulkner said. “But using it for a practical use I thought that was pretty cool.”

Cross recommended 11th grader Nehemiah Faulkner to take on the project over the summer. Coincidentally, Faulkner plays clarinet in same band as Ochoa. Since they both had that connection through band, Faulkner immediately took the measurements to create a perfect fit for Ochoa’s arm placement.

“He was like--- I got a kid that gonna help and he recommended Nehemiah who just so happen to be my band kid,” Barron said. “Fifteen year old kid’s over there measuring everything there, it was incredible to watch a kid that young have that ability.”

Although they say the technology is helpful, Ochoa and Faulkner hope that those who own 3D printers can use them to help people residual limbs to create 3D printed arms, legs, hands, to increase mobility.

“For certain things, we should definitely be using technology such as this... especially for people who are amputees like me,” Ochoa said. “There’s so much different things you can make with a 3D Printer.”