Hand made gift: Student gets ‘3-D printed’ prosthetic

Published 5:02 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

Todd Giglio, an alumnus of Annunciation Catholic School in Bogalusa who now teaches engineering at Picayune Memorial High School, presented a program on 3D printing at the Bogalusa Branch library on Thursday night. Then he demonstrated what it could do Friday morning, by presenting ACS student Edan Watts, 11, with a prosthetic hand built by two of his students and made by the 3D process.

What could have cost $40,000, and might have been economically out-of-reach for some, cost just $10 or $15 to produce, Giglio said.

“There is not hardly an industry out in the world that could not use a 3D printer,” he said. “I had a ‘wow’ moment with the first printout I got. This is so cool. And not any of the kids I serve had access to it. It uses an X, Y, Z axis, so it kind of gets your geometry skills involved.”

Giglio said the technology, which ranges from creating jewelry, toys, and even human bladders and pharmaceuticals to building houses, has gotten less expensive to employ.

“It is a technology that has been around for over 20 years, but has not been available to the general public because of patents and cost-restrictive measures,” he said. “Now that patents have expired, 3D printing for the educational consumer, and small research and design platforms has really taken off. I would like to have future workshops in the community to help people to understand and get familiar enough with the technology to be able to use it, and not have fear or lack of knowledge of it.”

On Friday, Giglio went to PMHS and picked up students Noah Pittman and Jeremy Thorman and brought them to ACS for the presentation.

Derik Thompson, ACS tech coordinator, was in the library waiting. He said the project started about a year ago, but was sidelined when the March floods caused the school to take over the library while work was done on the office.

“I met Todd Giglio at the (ACS) 75th reunion,” Thompson said. “The kids learned the concept of 3D building last year. Edan’s class said, ‘Why don’t we print her a hand?’ I thought we’ve got to do this. It’s a way to blend technology and Christian values. They weren’t concerned with making toys. They were concerned about helping a classmate.”

Edan’s great-aunt Judy Lyons was early, as well.

“I’m excited and she is, too,” she said.

The hand is largely purple and fitted with foam and leather on the interior. Woven fishing line gives it the capability of making a fist and other movement. Thorman said it took two days to build and another to assemble. He and Pittman planned to make any needed adjustments and to “tweak” the hand.

When Edan first saw it she said, “Cool, awesome!” She said she likes the color purple.

“You’re going to have to practice to learn how to use it,” Thompson said.

“You have to get some muscle memory with it,” Pittman added.

All agreed that Edan Watts would have that mastered by the time school starts again in the fall.