Senior Editor

The Inertia

Ever been to any beach at any place on earth?. They’re generally relatively sought-after places. All that sand and water and horizon makes people happy, even though the water is full of sharks and sand is just tiny little rocks. But if you have been to the beach, you have seen plastic. If you have been outside in general, you have seen plastic. It blows against our fences and lines our streets, just begging to be repurposed. And Laura and Chris Moriarity figured out a fantastic way to do just that. Using plastic they find on the beach, they are making prosthetic limbs for people around the world. It’s called the Million Waves Project, and like all things, it started out with an idea.

Late one night in April, Chris Moriarity sat up in bed with a lightbulb over his head. “I’d been reading a lot about what was happening with ocean plastics and I’d been reading a lot about 3D printing,” Chris told Q13 Fox. “We didn’t have a background in either one, but all of sudden I was like, ‘why isn’t somebody putting these two things together?”

In just two weeks, the couple had a 3D printer, their first designs for a prosthetic hand, and a name for the program. The Million Waves Project charity was born. As it stands right now, Chris and Laura cut the plastic up by hand or feed it through a paper shredder. From there, they connect with people in need of prosthetics via an app. Since prosthetics are not exactly one-size-fits-all, the app allows them to design the limb specifically to the necessary measurements. Then, they fire the whole thing into the 3D printer, and out pops a functional prosthetic limb. Total cost? Around $45.

Since they opened their doors, they’ve shipped 18 hands out to people who need them, and with the early success, they’re already planning on expanding. They’re working towards a commercial-sized shredder so they can increase production.

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