When 15-year-old Aaron Westbrook researched prosthetics and learned they could be created with 3-D printers, he thought the technology would be way beyond him.

When 15-year-old Aaron Westbrook researched prosthetics and learned they could be created with 3-D printers, he thought the technology would be way beyond him.

Months later, New Albany High School installed a 3-D printer in its Fab Lab, and Westbrook contacted E-Nable, a nonprofit organization that provides plans for printing prosthetics.

"It's an amazing opportunity for kids to get something like this that, in my opinion, is better than a traditional prosthetic," Westbrook said.

The high school's MIT fabrication laboratory opened last fall and includes a 3-D printer, laser engraver, welding equipment, humanoid robots and a wood router and milling system.

Westbrook, a sophomore at New Albany High School, said he was born without a hand and wrist on his right arm but he has never felt hindered by it.

He is able to push keys on a computer keyboard with his right arm and lift and carry things as easily as his peers.

In 2013, after years of saying he didn't need a prosthetic, Westbrook said, he worked with the Aladdin Shriners to obtain a prosthetic arm.

"It was heavy and I just wasn't used to having that weight on my shoulder," he said.

Plus, the hand on the prosthetic was immobile, he said.

The 3-D-printed arm is different.

The prosthetic was printed in several pieces, which Westbrook put together using screws and nuts, fishing line and elastic cord.

The arm cuff attaches to his elbow. The end of the cuff has a plastic wrist and a hand with fingers that move as he moves his elbow.

The entire prosthetic weighs less than 5 pounds, he said.

"A traditional prosthetic costs $40,000," Westbrook said. "This is about $40 in plastic."

Westbrook said it took several attempts to get the sizing right.

"I worked with Aaron in the beginning of the project in order to help him print and modify the design he was given," said Tavis Spears, a New Albany computer science teacher who works in the Fab Lab.

Marcy Raymond, the New Albany-Plain Local School District's director of curriculum and innovation, said more and more students are learning they can build almost anything with a 3-D printer.

She said in the Fab Lab, teachers are helping students understand they can solve problems using the equipment in the lab.

Raymond said Westbrook's project is a good example.

She said Westbrook showed perseverance when the arm initially would not fit.

"It's something he's passionate about," Raymond said. "Others may have faced failure and quit. But he persisted, tried different things, redesigned and searched for what he needed to make the prosthetic better. ... The persistence he has is uncommon."

Westbrook writes about his experiences on Alive With Five, his blog at alivewithfive.moonfruit.com, and now he wants to help others in the same situation.

"I started a Kickstarter campaign so I can buy my own 3-D printer and computer so I can create hands for other people," he said.

Westbrook already is working with Lorna Flint, a freshman exchange student from England who is attending New Albany High School.

Flint is missing four fingers on one of her hands.

Westbrook said working through E-Nable, he found a person with a 3-D printer in Iowa who's willing to work with them and print fingers for Flint.

"I've become impassioned," he said. "I'd like to take (what I've learned) and help other people."

Westbrook said he needs to raise $2,400 to purchase the computer and printer.

His Kickstarter campaign had $435 as of April 13 and is listed as closing on May 17.

"I'd eventually like to turn it into a nonprofit to help people like me," he said. "This is always something I'm going to be involved in. If it evolves into a nonprofit, I'd be interested in continuing it."

When asked if it could become part of a future career, Westbrook falls back to his other passions: film and theater.

"I really would like to go to school (college) for film," he said.