3D printed stormtrooper arm 36046

Three-D printing is pretty impressive, but the kindness of people is incredible. Seven-year-old Liam Porter, who was born without part of his left arm, recently received a new prosthetic one from e-NABLE, an online community of people with 3D printers who work together to create prosthetics for people who need them, according to Of course, if you're going to create a prosthetic for a little boy, why not make it as cool as possible? The result: A robotic limb that looks like the armor worn by the Imperial Stormtroopers in Star Wars. Ah-ma-zing.

Not only is the new arm lighter and easier for Liam to move than his previous prosthetics, it only cost about $300 while a traditional prosthetic limb runs about $9,000. Liam's Stormtrooper-like creation—officially called the RIT Arm—was designed by a prop maker in Washington and a carpenter in South Africa and 3D-printed and built by John Peterson of Grovetown, Georgia. Peterson and Georgia's 501st Legion, a group who cosplay as Stormtroopers and helped make the arm look authentic, surprised Liam with his new arm and a Clone helmet at a movie theater in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, last weekend.

The robot-like arm has various hand attachments and can be adjusted to fit Liam as he grows. If watching him try out the arm for the first time and seeing the huge permasmile on his face doesn't make you tear up, we don't know what will.

Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor and writer who now has even more reasons to want a 3D printer. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ to see more of her articles about kids and parenting, home design and DIY projects, and food trends and menu ideas.