OC 3-D printing company seeks to help people with limited use of hands

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. (KABC) -- MatterHackers, a 3-D printing and software development company, launched a global 3-D design challenge for tool ideas to help people with limited use of their hands.

Mara Hitner, MatterHackers' director of business development, came up with the challenge idea after being inspired by her friend Brandy Leigh Scott.

"Using 3-D design and 3-D printing to develop new tools and new technology for people that have any kind of challenges with their hands," Hitner said.

Scott was diagnosed with Dupuytren's contracture at 10 years old. It is a rare disease that causes tissue beneath the surface of the palm to thicken making the fingers fold into the hand and stiffen.

"I have a big issue with doorknobs. If they're round, I have a hard time gripping them to turn the door," Scott said.

The disease makes basic tasks extremely difficult for Scott. While she used to be able to find tools in stores to help her, those stopped becoming available.

That is when Hitner got the idea for the Within Reach Design Challenge. MatterHackers encourages people from all over the world to compete in the competition to help come up with ideas for tools that could really make a difference for people.

"Just frictions - little frictions, big frictions - in life, with 3-D printing if you have some design skills, you can solve so many of those issues," David Gaylord with MatterHackers said.

The 3-D design challenge not only hopes to revolutionize technology but also spread awareness.

"Really cool that it's spreading the word about this condition because it is a rare condition and not a lot of people know about it," Scott said.

The competition will run until Sept. 6. You can find out more about the competition at matterhackers.com/withinreach.
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