Forming 5: Phase 3

I have been predicting this for months but I’ve been quite aware that the third and final phase of Forming 5 will happen very quickly. Every obstacle and lesson that formed from my project have shown to be grander in purpose and in meaning. What has been developed in the past 6 months has been much more than making Maddie’s arm, but it is the very foundation of Form5 going forward. From experiences I learned in the past year, I know everything will happen in its absolute own time. Through this project, I have made great strides in establishing Form5 in the past 6 months. As I enter this last phase of my project, I am optimistic and beyond grateful for the opportunity to create Forming 5.

When I started Forming 5, I never knew what I was getting myself into. I had this mere idea of making 3D printer filament from recycled plastic my sophomore year of high school after making my first 3D printed prosthetic for myself. When I stopped “fabricating” at the school, I somehow (still amazed) raised $2,400 through Kickstarter to purchase my own 3D printer and filament. Upon all those events I changed my original blog name from “Alive With Five” to “Form5 Prosthetics” and had quite a large map unfolding in front of me. I knew that I had to follow what I felt and that in time everything falls into place. In my time in the Fab Lab, I had a lot of roadblocks and setbacks with designs which lead to my discouragement in the process of 3D printing prosthetics. When I reformed Form5’s focus last year after speaking a TEDx New Albany, I knew what was next for Form5 would be extraordinary.  

In reflecting on this project, I am incredibly humbled and thankful for those who have been a part of enacting change through Forming 5. The amount of support and generosity from those all around me has been remarkably grounding. I have formed important and unforgettable bonds this year because of Forming 5. I am honored and thankful for the student body at New Albany High School for not only supporting a school-wide recycling initiative but also supplying Form5 with all the materials to sustain 3D printing eco-friendly prosthetics for the next year!

Due to several circumstances (unfortunately out of my control), some reform is being done to the original agenda of Forming 5. As time is permitting, our project must come to an end! I made the courageous and difficult decision to complete Maddie’s arm in a timely fashion and allow my ongoing eco-friendly research to continue into spring and over the summer. Our Filabot-Filament Extruder has a slight chip in the driving screw which feeds the mulch into the extruder. Initially this seemed to be a minor issue, but after all the machines were in sync, this turned out to a have a larger impact in consistency than anticipated. After solving the mulch issue, I am now using a blender practically making a powder out of the cups/lids collected. I met with my on-site advisor, Keith Overton last week and we compared Form5’s finalized plastic mulch to Filabot pellets and both seemed to have the same problems during extrusion. This confirms my thoughts on the having the driving screw repaired. I have tried everything in my power to resolve this issue and hoped to form everything together in time for Maddie’s arm. Form5’s Filabot is already being prepared to make its trip back to Filabot and come back repaired and ready to go! Unfortunately, this goal is not tangible at this time and this was shown to me through many signs the past couple of days. I am in the process of amending the Forming 5 proposal to submit to the senior team when I return to school after Spring Break. This was never what I wanted and this was a very hard decision to make, but this project wasn’t all about my research. It was about the possibilities I could form for Maddie!

With that being said, I am finishing Forming 5 on cue and I am far from over because I am still learning every day! I have purchased manufactured filament (Black & White) from a company called MeltInk who follows Form5 on Instagram. In the weeks of struggling to accomplish my proclaimed goal of sustainable prosthetics, I made several test arms and pieces to stay on track with the fabrication process of Maddie’s arm. On March 19th Maddie left the Form5 Lab with a very rough version of a test arm. It is very different making someone else’s prosthetic than making my own. I am making many modifications to ensure Maddie’s final arm fits just right! As Maddie provides feedback from these test arms, I am spending the later part of this week to fabricate her final arm which I will fit her within the next week!

More details regarding the fabrication process of Maddie’s arm will be shared in our last blog post of Forming 5 will be titled “Forming 5: Maddie” (4/7/17). Following “Forming 5: Maddie” will be another blog post regarding what’s in store Post-Forming 5!

Keep your eyes on the final hour…

Big things ahead,

Aaron Westbrook, CEO & Founder of Form5 Prosthetics

E: aaron@form5prosthetics.org

Below are current photos from our project Forming 5:

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