Finger printed: MN high school uses 3-D printer to make teacher a prosthetic finger

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A Minnesota high school is putting its 3-D printer to good use by helping out one of its teachers.

Galen McCarthy, an art teacher at Jackson County Central High School in southern Minnesota, lost his middle and pointer fingers in a farming accident when he was 4 years old, but now thanks to one of his colleagues, he has a new 3-D printed prosthetic, KEYC reports.

Blaise Jacobsen, another art teacher at the school who focuses on creating art with technology, has been using the 3-D printer with his students since the art department got it last summer, and when he came across a design for a prosthetic finger, he immediately thought of McCarthy, the Jackson County Pilot reports.

After a few attempts at printing the prosthetics, they got one that "works pretty good," McCarthy told WCCO. “I can pick up a coffee cup. I can type – well, I’m not the world’s best typer.”

Jacobsen posted about it on his Facebook page at the end of January, saying "Isn't technology awesome":

McCarthy wears the prosthetic finger for about an hour a day, but says it's still a little awkward to use, KEYC notes.

The duo is still working to refine the prosthetic, with McCarthy hoping it will eventually help alleviate some of the grip fatigue he experiences when using his left hand, the Jackson County Pilot says.

What is 3-D printing?

Engineers and designers have been using 3-D printing (also called additive manufacturing) for decades, but as technology evolves, more and more products are being produced that are changing people's lives, says.

Companies are using 3-D printers to make medical implants and medical devices, the Economist explained, and new research presented last month shows 3-D printed bone can even help human bone regenerate, Medical News Today reports.

3-D printers have also been used to make jewelry and gifts, shoes, guns, a concrete castle, two-story homesurns, guns and more, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

As it technology advances, 3-D printing is expected to transform almost every major industry" and the way people live, work and play, says. The industry is expected to grow to $12.8 billion by 2018 and exceed $21 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020, the website notes.

Here's a video explaining how 3-D printing works:

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