SAC 3D PRINTER LENDS THE WORLD 'A HELPING HAND’

Prosthetic hands made with SAC’s 3D printer have been approved for use by physically disadvantaged children worldwide.

Computer science teacher Terry Prezens received word last month from e-Nabling The Future that the prototype hand he submitted had passed inspection and been entered into a database to match with recipients in need.

The organization depends on a network of volunteers with 3D-printers to donate the prosthetics. Its website states that approximately 1,500 hands were delivered to children and adults in more 40 countries over two years.

“This is really exciting for us,” says Mr. Prezens. “We could potentially help a child – even one in our own community.” His next step is to get word out locally. The savings for a needy family are substantial, with the cost to purchase one made professionally running thousands of dollars. With SAC’s high-quality 3D printer, the only investment is about $75 worth of ABS plastic, which has been kindly donated by the Scullion-Smeenk family.

Mr. Prezens became aware of the organization while researching ideas for his grade 12 computer engineering class. Each year he challenges his students to come up with things to make or do that will help people with special needs, particularly children with physical or mental disabilities.

In the past, students have come up with some incredible projects, including a hand that opens and closes when a person shrugs their shoulders, or a GPS bracelet to be worn by a parent and child to help locate each other in case they become separated.
These types of projects are more about the process of learning versus creating a viable end product, so these and other student ideas were not developed to the final stage. It was a different situation, however, when Mr. Prezens discovered the e-NABLE website.

The more he explored the organization’s pages, the more impressed and excited he became. After watching a clip from The Ellen DeGeneres Show that featured a young girl with her new hand, Mr. Prezens was spurred into action and requested the free 3D-printable files.

“I downloaded it and I printed it. It was that easy,” he marvels. There is another version that prints the hand in pieces to assemble, which may be something he involves his students with in future.

And while the prototype was created in white plastic, Mr. Prezens smiles as he proposes any future hands be made in SAC red.

Story by Cindy Veitch
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St. Andrew's College
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