On Saturday afternoon, 7-year-old Liam Porter went to the movies with his friends in Augusta, Georgia.
Shortly after he left the theatre, he spotted Imperial Stormtroopers marching toward him.
A huge fan of the Clone Troopers from Star Wars, Liam was thrilled.
What he and his family didn’t know was that the troopers were there to surprise Liam with a new 3D-printed prosthetic arm that resembled a Clone Trooper’s arm. Paired with the new arm was a Clone Trooper helmet — and an invitation to join the 501st Legion, a fan organization dedication to wearing accurate Imperial costumes.
“I was just as surprised as he was,” Liam’s mother, Ryan Porter, told WFXG. “I knew it was going to happen, but i didn’t know exactly what was planned.”
John Peterson, the arm’s creator, handed Liam his new arm and told him he could now complete his training with the troopers.
Liam was born without part of his left arm. He tried to use a prosthetic when he was younger, but his mother told the Augusta Chronicle that it wasn’t helpful.
“It didn’t really move,” Ryan said. “So to a little kid it was nothing but dead weight. He did a lot without it.”
Peterson was paired up with Liam through e-NABLE, an online community of people with 3D printers who work with professional designers and open-source designs to print prosthetics for those who need them, but can’t always afford them.
While a typical prosthetic hand costs about $9,000, a 3-D printed hand can cost as little as $50.
Peterson told the Augusta Chronicle that the arm took about three months to make, but only cost about $300 to build.
“It came out pretty well,” he said.
When Liam attached his new limb, he could immediately flex the fist, and grip and lift a cup.
His initial assessment of the arm? “Cool.”
“Seeing his excitement and hearing his giggle…so loud that you could hear it through the helmet is probably one of my favourite things about today,” said Jen Blegin, who was at the theatre to witness all the excitement.
It didn’t take long before Liam and his friends were brainstorming what sort of Lego weapons they could build and attach to Liam’s new arm.
Liam’s mother believes the new arm will make daily tasks like buttoning his shirt “a little bit easier.”
Peterson is committed to working with Liam to make any needed modifications and adjustments to the new arm. With the right adjustments, the arm should be able to grow with Liam.
Up next for Peterson: Working on a Green Lantern-themed prosthetic hand for another deserving boy.