Media Watch: Drexel Students 3D Print a Helping Hand for Young Violinist

Fourth-grader Julian Caraballo was born with a birth defect that limits the use of his right hand. This Velcro strap, designed by College of Medicine graduate students, helps him to play the violin. (Credit: Birches Elementary School)

When 11-year-old Julian Caraballo performed in his elementary school’s spring concert this year, he saw a few new fans in the audience: three Drexel University graduate students.

Tyler Bogaczyk, Kimanthi Gicovi and Alex Hahn — all students in the College of Medicine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies — watched Julian make music among his peers, with the help of a 3D printed prosthetic hand that they had created for the young violinist.

Julian, a fourth-grader at Birches Elementary School, was born with a birth defect limiting the full use of his right hand. He has never let the disability hold him back, but long periods of gliding his bow across violin strings were significantly tiring for his body.

When his teacher Lisa Sebastiani noticed him struggling, she turned online to the E-NABLE Community, a network of people from all over the world who offer to create free, 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device. The three Drexel students had recently joined the community and were linked up with Caraballo.

Using Bogaczyk’s 3D printer, the group successfully designed a custom Velcro device that allows Julian to grip and move his bow with ease.

Bogaczyk, Gicovi and Hahn are calling the creation a “Dragon Claw” and are hoping to expand the project to create a student group on campus next fall. Next, Julian wants the group to create a device that will help him better ride a dirt bike.

Watch Julian’s story, which was recently featured on Philadelphia’s Fox-29, below.

For media inquiries, contact Lauren Ingeno at or 215.895.2614.

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