Maui Makers: Made on Maui

3D-printed prosthetics
Buck Joiner’s 3D-printed prosthetics turn kids with physical challenges into supercool cyborgs.

Beyond having fun, island makers are also making a difference. Member Buck Joiner took advantage of the group’s 3D printer to build prosthetic arms, hands, and fingers for local children, using an open-source design. The lightweight plastic prosthetics can be made to flex and grip objects with simple movements of the wrist and elbow, customized to the child’s size and favorite colors—and reprinted when the child outgrows them or wears them out with rough play. “They break it, and we can make a new one,” Joiner says.

Maui Makers also offers regular classes and events on topics like 3D printing and electronics, as well as “Menehune Makers” classes for kids. Ulibarri says many people find the group because they’re interested in working on a specific project or idea. “You may come in with the skills already and know how to use the equipment, or you may need some training,” she says. Membership costs $60 per month ($80/month for a family membership), and there’s a $10 day rate for people who want to drop by to try a class or use the workshop.

tv heads costume
Michael Haynes turned a couple of old TV consoles into Halloween costumes for himself and wife Katherine, then used the programming language Arduino to create a hand-controlled messaging system for the LED readout.

Back in the electronics center, the rhythmic clang of a hammer striking an anvil rings out from the other side of the workshop, as Wallace and Menningen huddle over her project. Menningen spent forty-one years working in consumer product design and testing before moving to Maui three years ago. Before making the transition, he found Maui Makers, and ended up bringing a container load of tools and machinery to donate to the group, including saws, welders, hand tools, and a tractor that now resides in the group’s parking lot. “It felt like a good place to be,” he says. “I have a lot of knowledge, and I like to pass that on.”

When he began working with Wallace, one of the first things he taught her was how to make a circuit board. She’s now creating a more sophisticated one with help from a computer design program. As she turns over that first attempt in her hands, running her fingers over the components, she looks over her work with pride. “I like coming here,” she says. “It’s a learning type of fun.”

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