Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the Brink

The Centro de Miembros Artificiales is about to re-open! As mentioned previously much of the equipment for the prosthetics lab was purchased in a single day at one of the worlds largest open-air markets in El Alto.

Bandsaw for cutting plastic and anything else that might need a quick zip during the fabrication of a prosthetic leg.

Drill press is critical in the fabrication of the in-house made Limbs International polycentric/locking knees. The knees are cut and drilled from black delrin plastic.

Bench grinder modified for use as our primary socket trim-line shaping tool. It will serve as our “Trautmen” grinder.

Ivonne, the Center's manager, demonstrated the fine art of bartering to get a decent price on the Rigid brand-name shop vac (in the corner of the pic) which will be used as our lab’s dust collection system.

This refrigeration pump (purchased mail-order from Argentina) will serve as our thermoforming vacuum. In combination with the shop-made PVC surge tank we hope to have a very functional system for cheap.

And the grand-daddy of them all is this Brazilian gas-fueled convection oven to heat our plastics for thermoforming. Finding this oven was like partaking in a city-wide treasure hunt. You see, in Bolivia you can’t simply search the internet for what stores sell the type of equipment you are needing. And no, you can’t search the yellow pages either. You literally have to hit the streets. This meant many days and countless hours of taxis, mini-buses, micro-buses (oddly larger than the mini-bus), and walking to find the best oven to meet our needs and budget. We are happy to be finished explaining to shop owners that YES we are going to cook plastic, not fine pastries. However, to celebrate the purchase, we ARE going to bake a delicious cake and some scones in the oven on Friday before it is tainted by the first piece of polypropelene.