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

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura

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