Curbell Plastics Provides Material and Technical Expertise to Create a Prosthetic Leg and Foot

Wilson High School STEM Students Design Transtibial Prosthetic and Utilize Acetal Copolymer Blocks for the Machined Foot

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Beth Summers
Curbell Plastics, Inc.
716-667-3377 x7439

Orchard Park, NY, March 14, 2017 – Orchard Park-based Curbell Plastics, Inc., one of the nation’s premier suppliers of plastic sheet, rod, tube, film, adhesives, sealants, and prototyping materials, recently provided technical expertise and a plastic material donation supporting students in the Technology and Engineering (STEM) Program at Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pennsylvania. The group of seniors enrolled in the Wilson Capstone Course, Engineering Design and Development (EDD), were tasked with identifying and solving a problem found throughout society.

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Wilson High School Engineering Design and Development Capstone Prosthetics Team. From left to right: Edwin Morris, Lydia Yenser, Utkarsh Panchal, Akanksha Bhusari, Vikrant Patel, Ryan Dennes (Instructor).

The students decided to develop a prosthetic device that would address the issues of cost (accessibility) and comfort which plague many amputees. After initial research in the prosthetics field, the students opted to create a transtibial, or below the knee, prosthetic for people of average activity levels. The challenge was identifying and obtaining the right materials which needed to be cost effective, easy to machine, and provide increased comfort for the patient.

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Finished foot prosthetic. Manufactured on a CNC milling machine from a solid block of acetal donated by Curbell Plastics. Aluminum adapter pieces were manufactured through the same machining techniques.

The students reached out to local and national companies for assistance and found Jeff Wilson, Business Development Manager of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Podiatry for Curbell Plastics, more than willing to help. Rather than simply making a donation of materials, Jeff worked with the students to share his expertise regarding the pros and cons of selecting specific materials in an on-line training session. Wilson shared his knowledge of the basic properties of plastics and helped the students select materials that met their project needs. Curbell Plastics also donated three blocks of copolymer acetal used to fabricate the foot providing an opportunity for students to develop skills in 3D modeling, 3D printing, CAM, and CNC milling and turning.

According to Ryan Dennes, a Master Teacher for the EDD program, “Jeff Wilson and Curbell Plastics went above and beyond for our students. Our goal is, of course, for our students to learn and build real world knowledge. While we were hoping to receive some assistance with the materials needed, the fact that Jeff took the time to work with our students and share his expertise was incredibly valuable. Working with professionals in the field allowed the students to gain insight on how to improve their project and what pitfalls to avoid. Nothing can compare with completing a real project that has the potential to make a difference in someone’s life and Curbell Plastics was a critical partner to our students.”

The students will continue to work on the project through the remainder of the school year and will present their findings at a school-sponsored event in the spring. Over the course of the year-long engineering based project, students learn valuable skills including teamwork, time management, communication, problem solving, and most importantly applying engineering skills to a real life situation.

Curbell Plastics, Inc. strategy of investing for the long term and focusing on customer needs has led the organization to grow from a small machine shop to one of the nation’s leading suppliers of plastic materials serving commercial and industrial customers since 1942. Curbell not only supplies plastic materials in nearly every form for thousands of commercial businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies but also provides innovative services, creative problem solving, and next-day delivery. Curbell Plastics has ISO 9001 certification for nine of their locations and corporate headquarters as well as ITAR and EAR compliance. A subsidiary of Curbell, Inc., Curbell Plastics is a privately held company with a 75-year history headquartered in Orchard Park, New York.

Watch a Video of Acetal Being CNC Machined