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Wednesday Watercooler


3D Printed Hand

3D Printing creates more than clever paperweights.

Tonight’s video is “Smoking Weed With the President of Uruguay” from VICE. 

At the end of 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. VICE correspondent Krishna Andavolu headed over to Uruguay to check out how the country is adjusting to a legally regulated marijuana market.

Along the way, he meets up with Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, to burn one down and talk about the president’s goal of a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and six cannabis plants per household.

High school students in Illinois 3D-printed a simple working prosthetic hand for a child. They used a few dollars of plastic and other parts, because the family could not afford the $50,000 alternative even with insurance. via and WTVO:

[Kylie] was born without fingers on her left hand. Kylie has been quite positive about it, but there are times that she breaks down. ‘She has always been pretty positive about it, but lately when she was breaking down, it was kind of hard.’ said Jeromy Wicker, Kylies Father.

Kylie’s parents have tried to get their daughter a prosthetic hand but that could cost $50,000, and their insurance would only cover 80% of the cost. ‘You have to take in the fact that she is only nine years old, and the way she grows, she will grow out of them,’ said Sharon Wicker, Kylies mom.

When her father found a video online about making plastic hand on a 3D printer, he wrote an email to teachers at local Boylan High School asking if they could help with their 3D printer. ‘He had seen online that you could make a 3-D printout of the fingers on a plastic printer, and he knew we had one,’ Bud May, instructor of the engineering graphics class.

The teachers and students started designing a prosthetic hand that could fit over Kylie’s knuckles. They have never done this before, but it took them only few days to figure out how to make a 3D printout of the fingers on a Makerbot 3D printer. ‘The flexible cords make the fingers stand out when you bend the wrist forward the length gets longer and the cables force the hand to grasp.’ said May.

And in just few days, Kylie can wear it. ‘Coming really fast, because I’m going to get it on Friday, and it’s really exciting,’ Kylie said. ‘I can finally ride my bike!’ Kylie will get two prosthetics, one in pink and one in purple, each consisting of about 30 parts. “The total cost of this hand will be barely $5.00, there is maybe $1.00 worth of plastic, and it costs a couple of bucks for the fasteners.” Said May. Kylie’s hand is expected to be ready by Friday.

Of course, this is also yet another story that’s really about the inadequacies of our profit-driven health care system … Thanks to @AnarchoAnon for this link. Here’s more about 3D Printing for Disability on Firedoglake.

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Photo by Mark Wilson released under a Creative Commons license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and