As luck would have it, the newly established MIT Fabrication Lab was just getting started at New Albany High School, where Aaron attended, and it included a 3D printer. With the help of e-Nable, a global movement dedicated to 3D printing prosthetic hands and arms for those in need, Aaron was able to use open-source designs to print his own prosthesis. In early 2015, Aaron left the school's Fab Lab wearing what would be his third and final 3D-printed prosthetic arm.
For Aaron, this was only the beginning. He immediately wanted to make this a viable option for others with limb differences. Years earlier he had connected with many of these individuals through his Alive with Five blog, which documented the struggles and accomplishments he faced living with one hand. Inspired to purchase his own 3D printer, he raised enough money through a Kickstarter campaign to make this a reality and then later launched Form5 Prosthetics as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In its first year as an organization, Form5 provided five recipients with prosthetic devices, held various fundraising events, and collected plastic waste that could be recycled into 3D printer filament material.
As part of its mission, Form5 is committed to providing prosthetics at no cost to the recipients. Another top priority is the belief that the mission is best accomplished by including the perspective and ideas of the limb-different community. With that in mind, Form5 initiated its CO-FAB Workshop, which brings participants, college students, and industry professionals together over a four-day period to develop prosthetics for several individuals living with limb differences. The event currently takes place twice a year and is led by volunteer design and engineering students as well as experts from Battelle and Honda.
Today Aaron is a full-time student at The Ohio State University, which means he must juggle his studies with the demands of running a full-fledged nonprofit organization. Thanks to the help of his board of directors – and the support of various community members and organizations – he is well positioned to rapidly scale the organization's impact by helping more people with limb differences acquire the resources, confidence, and support to do whatever they imagine.
The Form5 Innovation & Technology Committee is currently reviewing new projects to identify what we can feasibly accomplish during the COVID-19 pandemic while also aligning projects that will take place post-pandemic.