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Bionic Barry

Paul Greville of the Masterton District Library, and Barry Stroud wearing his prosthetic finger. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

 

EMILY IRELAND

Inspector Gadget, and Bionic Barry are just a couple of the anticipated titles for the new-look Masterton Miniature Train Station manager Barry Stroud.

Barry, who has worked as the train manager for about seven years, lost his finger in a workplace incident last year.

This week, thanks to 3D printing technology at the Masterton library, he is debuting a bionic finger, which he hopes one day to fix with a laser pointer – and that would be just the beginning.

When asked about how he lost his left index finger, Barry likes to say it was because he got “hit by a train” – “it sounds better” than what technically happened last January, he said.

“I was actually just working on a repair on the train and part of it collapsed on me.”

His finger was removed after a resulting infection.

“See, it sounds better to say I was hit by a train.”

Lesson learned? “If you’re going to do something stupid, make sure it’s a good one”.

Though Barry makes jokes about it now, he said he went through the “seven stages of grief” following the workplace incident.

One of those stages must have been “pragmatism”, according to Paul Greville of the Masterton District Library, “because before the swelling had even go down, he was in here to see the work we had done with the 3D printers”.

“Barry had already researched the thing he wanted to build – he found a chap in the States, Nick Brooking at Danger Creations, who had created a commercially viable bionic finger that you could make on a 3D printer.

“We measured Barry’s finger and started to print it out from the bottom to the top and fitted it.”

The project’s budget for materials was no more than $5, Mr Greville said – although effort-wise, hours upon hours of work had been put into it.

“I reckon I could do it again in about two hours.”

The prosthetic finger’s colourscheme – bright pink – had not been Barry’s first choice – but he was happy regardless.

“I wanted to be Iron Man… or a storm trooper or imperial droid, but as they say, when you go black, you never go back.”

In terms of modifications, Brary was already excited to install a laser pointer in the next prototype.

“There’s a world of possibility.

“There could be a work finger, crime-fighting finger…”

But Barry would have to take little steps at a time, and was looking forward to learning to learning to eat and type with the prosthetic.

“Just using a fork would be cool,” he said.

“Even being able to grip a ticket or hold a coin between my fingers would be great.

“It’s nice having the feeling of five fingers again.”

The prosthetic finger is fitted with “elastic tendons” connecting to a wristband.

As the elastic tightens with wrist movement, the finger bends towards the palm.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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