3D printer helps solve pill bottle dilemma
By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Few would dispute the perceived dichotomy of the value of social media, from a platform causing the rampant spread of misinformation to the welcomed connection between distant family members. In some cases, a social media post can prompt a chain reaction and a call to action. That was the case when Marlborough resident Steve Hook read a post about Jimmy Choi, who is most well-known for his appearance on American Ninja Warrior, and just happens to also have Parkinson’s disease.
Open source schematics
Choi had expressed annoyance on Tiktok about the size of his pills for Parkinson’s. The pills are extremely tiny and, for someone with Parkinson’s symptoms, particularly the shaky hands, they are exceedingly difficult to get out of the pill case. Brian Aldridge, a country music video director, saw the post and decided to take action. He taught himself to use a design software and came up with a pill bottle that would dispense one tiny pill at a time. Aldridge didn’t have a 3D printer to actually make his design, however, so he made his schematics open source and encouraged others to try making them on a Facebook post.
The chain continues
Hook knew that his high school friend, Tom Lashmit, enjoyed tinkering with 3D printers and forwarded the post with the link to the design to him. Intrigued, Lashmit, who has a mechanical engineering degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, decided to try it out on his newest printer and posted on Facebook that he would be printing one out. Continuing the chain, one of his friends asked if he could make one for her mother, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s several years ago.
Pill bottles and cookies change hands
“The first models were not super precise, so I had to tune it and get good tolerances. When I posted my first version, Choi himself reached out to tell me that there was a newer version, V5.1, so I switched to that. Because of COVID-19 guidelines, I put a few bottles in a tin and left them at the light post in my driveway for my friend to retrieve. In turn, I found a tin of homemade chocolate chip cookies there a few days later,” Lashmit laughed. “The reports are that these work well for super tiny pills, and that the lids are particularly easy to open, which is another issue for Parkinson’s patients.” The standard childproof push-down-and-turn caps are a nightmare for those with Parkinson’s.
Michael J. Fox Foundation
Aldridge is donating the patent for his design to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the free schematics will continue to be found here.
In the meantime, Lashmit, the Town Surveyor for Wayland, owns Friendly Farm LLC, and will continue to research green upcycling and organic methods for growing basil in a refurbished and climate-controlled freight container on his property.
“I may expand to include a little 3D printing,” he added. “The best part of this was how social media spurred random people to help others, though.”
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