The young girl had been born with amniotic band syndrome (ABS), a rare condition where strands of the amniotic sac entangle digits, limbs, or other parts of the foetus and can cause various problems. In this case, the bands were wrapped around the girl’s left arm, ultimately resulting in a loss of her limb just below the elbow.
Jonathan Clark, head of ICT & computing at BISP, led this instalment of the CAS Project (Creativity Action Service) project and said this about its inception: “The little girl’s father, contacted me after reading a newspaper article about our students being able to 3D-print prosthetics. The team immediately took charge of this CAS project with the goal of creating a fully functional prosthetic arm by utilizing the technological opportunities at BISP. The students worked with scale photographs of the girl’s arms to accurately produce a suitable fit, and after much hard work and perseverance to perfect the 3D designs, they successfully printed and assembled the arm.”
Inspired by the project and his students, Jonathan added, “It has been overwhelmingly satisfying for the students to see images of the girl wearing their 3D printed creation. While the family did not wish for the images to be made public, they are extremely grateful to Melanie, Michael, and Arsenii, and are thrilled to see their daughter getting used to her new arm, which is a big improvement from the primarily aesthetic prosthesis she used to have.”
Melanie Preen said: “I am glad to have joined this project because it allowed me to positively impact someone’s life. My motivation was to build important skills such as decision making, benevolence and applying technology to solve problems. For instance, we used online resources to learn how to craft the tangible prosthetic hand from virtual 3D designs. This project allowed me to move towards my goal of being a female role-model for the STEM community. I hope my teammates and I will be able to repeat this success and use technology to solve environmental and social issues.”
Michael Larsson stated: “Around the world, people find themselves in unfortunate situations for various reasons, and may not be able to help themselves. I think those who have the resources should help those who don’t. This project was an opportunity to both learn about 3D design and printing as well as helping someone in need. Although we only helped one person, it shows that we can help people everywhere if we put in the time and effort. This project also showed the true capabilities of technology and how this will hopefully be utilized in the future to help more in need, despite some of the disadvantages or concerns.”
Student Arsenii Barbashov stated, “The project was a positive and inspiring experience. Although our group helped only one person, it is still a great achievement for us and our school community. The perfect reward was knowing that we helped improve someone’s life. Moreover, when you’re making a prosthetic arm, you put a part of your soul into it, which makes every prosthetic unique. Reflecting on our work, I think that society as a whole should aim to provide opportunities for everyone and give everyone a chance for success.”
According to the Amputee Coalition, 3D printing is a promising technology that could create opportunities to significantly reduce the cost of prostheses and make them more accessible. With free 3D designs from online databases and access to a 3D printer, a 3D-printed prosthesis could be made for as little as THB 1,500.