STEPHENVILLE (October 28, 2016) — At Tarleton State University, you can print a prototype for a customized orthotic to help a stroke victim strengthen his hand. That’s what one student did. The recipient—Clarence Young—got the real deal this week.
A 3-D, poster-size printer in the new Maker Spot on the upper level of Tarleton’s Dick Smith Library enabled Christina Tocquigny to fashion the specially designed brace. It will help stretch Clarence’s fingers during personalized workouts at the university’s Lab for Wellness and Motor Behavior (LWMB).
Tocquigny, a digital media studies graduate from Moran, Texas, volunteered to tackle the project as a hands-on learning experience after an appeal was made to her art class this past spring. She has a heart for individuals with physical disabilities and a mind that grasps the enduring relationship of art, science and technology.
“Think Leonardo da Vinci,” Tocquigny explained. “An artist and scientist, he studied physiology and anatomy to create convincing images of the human form. Combining my artistic and creative talents with what I’ve learned in the classroom and the technology available in the Maker Spot brings the best of all worlds together to help someone in need.”
When the Maker Spot went live earlier this year, library officials had a good idea that students, faculty, staff—even community patrons—would use the 3-D equipment, action cameras and invention kits to create everything from keychains to custom-made, alphabet-soup keyboards.
No one figured on a well-fitted device to make life better for a longtime Stephenville plumber.
Clarence suffered a stroke about three years ago and shows up at Tarleton’s wellness lab weekdays for a workout with kinesiology graduate students Bailee Mauldin from Haslet, Texas, and Elizabeth Cisneros from Kaufman, Texas. The duo worked with Christina to create the prototype for Clarence’s customized orthotic brace.
“The Maker Spot is much more than a print lab,” said Chris Grantham, a technology support specialist at the Tarleton library. “It allows inventors to turn thoughts and ideas into useable products and prototypes. Maker Spot capability is limited strictly by imagination.”
The larger of the 3-D printers produces “plastic” items up to 9 inches by 9 inches by 20 inches—like a 14-inch propeller for a model airplane, or a device for a stroke patient.
The cost to print a 3-D project in any of 16 available colors is 10 cents per gram of filament—a plastic called ABS made from petroleum (like LEGO® sets). That means that Clarence’s new brace will cost far less than it would from a medical supply shop.
A stationary 3-D scanner copies objects up to 8 inches, and a handheld scanner can replicate life-size models.
A large-format paper printer is available to create posters—everything from family photos to maps to personal artwork—up to 3 feet wide. There is a minimal cost per square foot of paper.
The Tarleton Dick Smith Library Maker Spot also is home to electronic kits to turn bananas into a piano keyboard or set of bongo drums, as well as LEGO® sets to create robotics—all available for checkout to reinforce classroom learning and empower students to create, build and produce.
“While several Tarleton departments have equipment and technology similar to what’s available in the Maker Spot, they’re restricted to use by students enrolled in specific labs and classes,” explained Systems Librarian Margie Maxfield. “The Maker Spot is open to the entire university as well as community patrons, like local scouting groups.
“Community involvement is one of the best things about the Maker Spot,” she said. “The Maker Spot is an ideal platform for participatory learning communities formed around passions and shared interests.”
According to Maxfield, libraries are evolving from reading rooms and computer labs to dynamic workshop spaces for creative multimedia learning and doing. Because of spaces like the Maker Spot, students are turning classroom knowledge into projects that make the world a better place.
Just ask Clarence Young.
For more information about the Dick Smith Maker Spot, visit www.tarleton.edu/library/makerspot.html.