by Brianna Cabral
Drew Jackson, Ben Plucinski, and Dan Morton presented their year-long engineering project at WPI on May 24. They created a functioning golf prosthetic using a 3D printer. This presentation was part of the first STEM Hub, Project Lead The Way Showcase. They won a Capstone Excellence Award for their presentation.
Ideas for this design came from last year’s extracurricular project, which involved printing and delivering one of the e-Nable hands to a student at the middle school. The project focused on creating a prosthetic hand to swing a bat.
Though that design worked as an inspiration, the golf prosthetic functions very differently. “The hand was an active device that required a release mechanism that would release the bat while swinging,” Dailey explains.”The golf hand is passive after it ‘grabs’ the club and only releases the club when the user wants to remove it.”
Last year Dailey submitted the prosthetic hand for softball for an MIT-Lemelson grant. He and his students were finalists, but they were not selected for the year-long grant.
They also pursued this project because of the high price of sports prosthetics and the few prosthetics available for different sports. Plucinski explains that it would cost $5000 for just a custom socket and then another $800 if it’s a prosthetic that works for golf. Morton also adds that “anything sports specific isn’t covered by insurance. They only cover medically necessary devices, so all that money is out of pocket.”
Their design costs $15.75.
To test the durability of their prosthetic, they swung a golf club at a variety of objects. “We dropped it a few times, dropped some golf bags on it,” Plucinski explains. “When we were testing and swinging at the log, it actually bent the club in half, so you know it works.”
The testing and refining process followed a strict timeline. Dailey set these due dates to make sure they got their work done and stayed caught up.
All of this work was the student’s responsibility, and Dailey says, “In terms of designing, prototyping, testing, and refining their project, they have done an outstanding job.”
The students themselves are very proud of their product. “I think we have achieved a lot,” Jackson explains looking at his peers. “I think it had to do a lot with time management and just staying focused and getting into engineering mode.”
Even with all the work they have done, Dailey thinks there was still a flaw in their process. The seniors didn’t test their design on an actual amputee. User feedback certainly could have changed the final project,” Dailey explains. “But, this does not diminish their accomplishment.”