James McCraw, Reporter
Pierce College Engineering Club had the opportunity to make a prosthetic hand using 3D printing technology. The club worked on the hand for about a year, after a meeting with Casey Marino who had lost his hand in a farming accident almost 11 years ago.
It was a chance opportunity for Marino. Marino was a student at Clover Park Technical College and he had a friend who went to Pierce and met with the Engineering Club last year during Clubs Rush at Fort Steilacoom.
“I came in, talked with them for about an hour and they took a bunch of measurements and then they were like, ‘cool, we’ll call you when we have a prototype,’” Marino said.
Marino said that when he was younger rehabilitation wasn’t really something that was possible due to the severity of the injury.
He would go to physical therapy and there was nothing for the therapists to work with. Looking at the idea of prosthetics back then, something as advanced as what the engineering club made would have cost thousands of dollars.
Natural Science Professor and Engineering Club Advisor Alan Man said some of the more advanced prosthetics involve attaching electrodes to the body, making it more robotic.
Marino said he doesn’t remember what it was like to have fingers on that hand and he knows that this won’t be a crutch but a tool to help him succeed in life.
When Man and Club President Sean Carda presented Marino with the hand, Marino was floored by the prosthetic and how well it worked for him.
“Just the design of this thing is amazing to me. In my wildest dreams would I have thought of something like that,” Marino said.
Getting used to the semantics of the new hand is something that will be foreign to Marino.
“Having that spacial awareness there is going to be really weird, really weird,” Marino said.
Man said that the hardest part of setting up the hand was getting all the fingers to all move at the same time in a fluid motion.
“They’re grippier than my thumb is,” Marino said about the prosthetic. “My thumb doesn’t have enough grip.”
Marino was contemplating whether or not he was going to wear the hand on his eight hour road trip back home to Oregon.
“I’m gonna have to really decide, am I gonna try (driving) with this, or am I gonna have this ready and try a couple of hours, and pull over, try a couple of hours, and pull over?” Marino said.
If a part of the hand breaks, Man and the club can print the replacement part for a low cost. The cost of materials needed for the prosthetic was no more than $50.
“I can’t thank you guys enough,” Marino said to the club.
Man wanted to acknowledge some of the previous members of the club who got the project started. He mentioned students Jacob Carroll, Kevin Curiel, Taran Randall, Nathan Hammermaster and said that this extensive project wouldn’t have happened without them.
Watch Marino receive the hand in the video below.
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