FAU students are leveraging the popularity of 3D printers for a good cause

Damba Koroma opened and closed her new hand again and again, then picked up a half-empty water bottle and swung it around.

“I feel like I’m getting a workout,” she said with a laugh.

The 23-year-old lost her left hand when she was 5, a casualty of the civil war that ravaged her native Sierra Leone. But thanks to 3D printing and a pair of Florida Atlantic University engineering graduate students, Koroma now has a replacement: a blue, green and glow-in-the-dark “bionic glove.”

Hers is the fifth one built by Perry Weinthal and Chad Coarsey. Their project began when they used a 3D printer at FAU High School to create one of the colorful, Iron Man-esque plastic hands for Coarsey, who was born with knuckles but without fingers.

In the year since, they’ve gotten multiple requests from people hoping for bionic gloves of their own. A local nonprofit, the Quantum Foundation, gave them a grant for a $3,000 3D printer. Others — including a doctor and medical students — have also helped with their effort.

After paying for the first devices out of pocket, they’re starting a nonprofit to fund their work. Though it’s in the early stages of launching, Weinthal and Coarsey have big dreams for The Bionic Glove Project.
“We want to give a helping hand to anybody that needs it,” Coarsey said.

Next page: How the growth of 3D printers has helped the project

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