Students at universities all over the world are using their entrepreneurial abilities to bring about positive actions in their communities. It is no different for us here at Penn State Abington. ENACTUS, which stands for ENtrepreneurial, ACTion and US, is a global non profit which helps college students use their entrepreneurial abilities to make a difference. Penn State Abington Enactus purchased a 3D printer in the spring of 2014 with the goal of making an impact in our community and generating revenue for the club. After receiving the printer we soon realized that our endeavor with this technology was not going to be as easy as we thought. The first printer we received was damaged so we had to send it back. The second printer we received worked for a day, and then began malfunctioning. The third printer seemed to be the charm as it was the first printer that made all of the items we needed with no hassle. Some of our first printed items brought out the inner child in all of us. We printed batman symbols, a green lantern ring, and a Darth Vader pen holder. We were having a lot of fun and we also recognized that this was an opportunity to utilize our entrepreneurial abilities.
Robert Hoffman is a communications professor and the lead advisor for Penn State Abington Enactus. Lindsay Freezman, and Veronica Paff, are students here at Abington and also the printing prosperity project managers. Together they came across an article that sparked and idea. The article was about a young girl who received a 3D printed prosthetic hand. After doing research Lindsay and Veronica discovered that they could also print a hand just like the one they saw in the article. They started printing right away and now have a 3D printed prosthetic hand prototype. Our team connected with a website called enablingthefuture.org, a nonprofit that brings together people who need prosthetics and those who print them. Our Enactus team has now been matched with a woman in New York who is seeking a 3D printed hand!
Most prosthetic hands cost an individual anywhere from $20,000-$60,000. Our prototype cost us about $100 to make. We are developing a business model which will allow us to create the hands at an even lower cost! A specific price point for each hand has not been set yet, however; each person who gets a prosthetic hand from us will be saving tens of thousands of dollars! We are very excited about this idea and have begun networking with like-minded individuals to help make the project successful.
A few Saturdays ago members of our team drove down to Baltimore Maryland to work with enablingthefuture.org. We joined world renowned Johns Hopkins trauma surgeon, Dr. Albert Chi, and several Baltimore area Boy and Girl Scout troops to assemble prosthetic hands. Using 3D printer technology we collectively produced hundreds of hands. Every hand that was put together is being donated to a child in a war stricken area. This event was extremely fun and truly heartwarming.
I asked Lindsay and Veronica, “How has this project effected your time at Penn State Abington?”
Lindsay said, “My heart is so full and I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of good happening around this project. My team and I have been working hard and it is beyond rewarding to know we have been touching people’s lives in a way that helps them live better. The project has made my time at Penn State Abington priceless.”
Veronica says, “The printing project has made my time at Abington so much better because it has showed me what can happen when you have a dream and you follow through with it. Seeing a little boy build his own hand and how happy he was showed me how much of a difference these hands can make in anyone’s life.”
Penn State Abington Enactus is working every day to become more efficient in producing prosthetics. We are planning to teach children in our local area how to make and assemble 3D printed prosthetics as well. This project has impacted so many lives already, but we still have many more people to help. With a team like ours, there is no question that this project will live on for years to come.
Written by: Joseph Cusick