photo by Sophia Crossley

Engineering Club gets hands-on

By Sophia Crossley

Two weeks ago, the Whatcom Community College Engineering Club completed the production of a ready-to-use prosthetic hand.
Zain Fares-Boulos is president of the club.
“We’re looking for people to test out these hands, but it’s a small demographic,” Fares-Boulos said.

Fares-Boulos has reached out to personal contacts who work in special education to find potential recipients.
The hands can be custom built and are free to each individual. They can even print the pieces in a rainbow design, according to Fares-Boulos.
Cora Lyon, club secretary, brought the idea to the club after she built a prosthetic hand in her free time.
“It could have easily taken me a day or two if I had really spent time with it, but I had some parts break that then had to be reprinted and I didn’t really like tying the knots, so in the end it probably took me six months,” Lyon said.
Lyon found the designs online.
The hand design was posted by E-nable, an organization that builds and designs prosthetic hands, then opens chapters for people to build them, Fares-Boulos said.
The hands are 3D printed from Whatcom’s own Makerbot machines in Heiner computer tech lab.
The grip is created with white nylon cord and black elastic cord. The parts take 15 to 20 hours to print, and the assembly time can be anywhere from 5 to 15 hours, depending on how much trouble someone has with getting the parts to fit together, Fares-Boulos said.
The club had to modify new prints when some of the parts printed at a lower resolution, Fares-Boulos said.
“I think we could start cranking them out a lot more now,” Fares-Boulos said.
They can make the hands any size, but the two hands they currently have would fit children between the ages of 8 and 10.
The next steps for the hands would be tweaking build quality and finding a way to create rubberized grips to give the hands a firmer grasp, Fares-Boulos said.
“The hands are really great for gripping things,” Lyon said.
Because the fingers don’t work independently, the club plans to create hands for more task-related actions, Lyon said.
Specifically, an interchangeable hand that could hold a guitar pic, Fares-Boulos said
The club can be contacted through their Facebook page, WCC Engineering, or their email,
Meetings are open to all students and take place in the Kulshan Hall Room 108, every Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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