I used to help my father in his garage and I learned a lot about life there

I used to help my father in his garage and I learned a lot about life there. Cars would come in broken, we would find out what is wrong with them, fix them and they would go back out again. It’s simple! Surgeons, lawyers, rocket scientists and people from all walks of life would bring their cars to us because they couldn’t fix a problem. My father told me that a problem is difficult or complicated depending on what eyes you look at it with. If you have no experience, you have two options; you get the experience you need or you let it out into the world and then people with the right eyes will tell you how to fix it. Only by chance, by talking to people, I heard about this five-year-old girl. She was born without a palm and fingers on one hand and had to wait until she turns 18 to get a prosthetic limb because she is growing too fast and they cost tens of thousands. I’ve used 3D printing for a long, long time as a mechanical and Materials engineer. There are many useful ways to use it. We printed lots of Pokemons, cartoon characters and gadgets… It was fun! But she had a problem and I love solving problems. I never even met the child, I just sent the instructions to the parents about how to take the measures and I used them to print the prototype. When it was ready I went up and I fit it to her. Until I met her it was just a project but man… she just started to use it straight away! She tried to pick up bottles, started moving it around. It wasn’t a prosthetic limb, it was like a new toy to her. It was cool, it was fun, she was interested. The whole project only came home to me when she went to leave the room and tried to open the heavy door with her new hand. She had it on for ten minutes… It wasn’t perfect, it was a prototype printed from €5 worth of plastic. Next month she will need a new resized model so we will add extra 20c worth of plastic to the same prototype and reprint. I’m telling you, there is a solution for every problem, we as humans just really like to overcomplicate things.”

I was lucky to meet Colin at TEDx UCD a few weeks ago! This is the talk he gave: