The 3D printing industry is a place of invention, collaboration and true wonder. At Filabot, we are in contact with people all around the globe doing incredible, life-changing things. We get to meet all sorts of creative people who are truly bringing passion and excitement to the 3D printing industry. Aaron Westbrook is one of those people.
Aaron was born with a limb difference, which in his case means he does not have a right arm or hand. In 2013 Aaron received his first prosthetic and started a blog called Alive with Five to connect with the limb difference community and speak about his experience. Aaron tells me “After hating it [his first prosthetic] and going out on a limb I learned 3D printing and created Form5 Prosthetics.” This was when he was 16 years old.
Aaron first got in contact with Filabot about a year ago for a high school senior project when he realized that plastic recycling needed to be a bigger part of his efforts to design and print a prosthetic limb. “If I'm going to do something, I am going to do it right. Recycling is key to the sustainability and accessibility of these evolving prosthetics. There is no excuse plastics that pollute our earth can't be reformed and transformed into a new meaning.” We totally agree with Aaron. He currently uses our Filabot Extruder and Filabot Spooler to experiment with and develop filament recycled from PLA coffee cups.
One thing about Aaron’s project and story that really interests us here at Filabot is the closed-loop recycling efforts he implemented to make his project a reality. Aaron created bins for collection at his high school coffee shop and collected over 2,000 coffee cups for extrusion. This sort of grassroots recycling effort is one example of moving towards closing the loop and making a difference in local waste streams. However, Aaron mentions it was a bit difficult to get folks excited about the project and came with a number of challenges: “I have one hand and I am a senior in high school haha, that is a lot of work to sign up for. Although I received a copious amount of cups, many students were not all interested in fully getting behind my project. I will be reflecting and reforming Form5's cup collection and will be implementing it in other areas in the future!“
The biggest challenge Aaron faces is time. He has high hopes for Form5 Prosthetics and recognizes that balancing the limb difference community, 3D printing community and prosthetic industry is tricky. His main goal is to make sure that Form5’s assistive devices are green, more efficient and accessible financially.
We have big plans for this upcoming year such as: establishing Form5 Prosthetics as a Non-Profit Organization, fabricating/completing the first eco-friendly 3D printed prosthetic (Project: Forming 5), and also drafting and experimenting with our first prosthetics designs in 2017 as well. In addition, we look forward to making several devices over the summer for those in our local limb difference chapter.
Aaron is graduating high school in just a few days. However, Form5 will continue and move with him to Yellow Springs, Ohio where he will be attending Antioch College. At Antioch Aaron will be building his own major in prosthetic research using 3D printing and recycled resources. Being able to forge his own path was important in his college decision and he couldn’t be happier to attend Antioch. He is also extremely excited to release his own prosthetic arm design in his first year at the school.
“Form5 is much more than an organization I am trying to build,” says Aaron “it is my passion and my self-expression. It allows me to form all the thing I enjoy doing into one. In addition, I get to change lives and impact those through my journey with being Alive with Five.” After emailing back and forth, it is clear to me Aaron’s hopes for Form5 will be met. He is extremely passionate and excited, and it is clear he is doing important work. If you’re interested in learning more about Aaron’s journey check out his blog Form5 Prosthetics and follow him on social media.You can also check out Aaron’s Tedx New Albany talk here. We can’t wait to see where his journey takes him, he’s clearly someone to watch out for!
Here at Filabot we’re excited about what our customers are doing and we’re proud of what Aaron has created. If you’ve got a project, an idea or solution that uses our Filabot system to improve the world we live in, we’d love to hear your story.
Thanks for reading!