According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month.
That sobering statistic gives way to more fatal outcomes: Drug overdose deaths in the United States have more than tripled since 1990, with a staggering 100 people dying every day from an overdose today.
With the help of a Las Vegas paramedic who has seen far too many overdose deaths, a group of students from BYU’s Engineering Capstone program is doing its best to curb prescription painkiller abuse.
The students have created a regulating device that dispenses painkillers strictly based on pharmacists’ instructions. The idea is to keep people from taking more pills – accidentally or on purpose – than their bodies can handle.
“The fact that there isn’t a solution to the drug overdose epidemic really drove us,” said Dallin Swiss, a mechanical engineering senior on the Capstone team. “This provides a missing piece to that national dilemma, and so it matters whether or not we succeed.”
Med Vault, as they call the device, is a sophisticated prescription pill container that is tamper-resistant and break-resistant and dispenses only pills according to doctors’ orders.
The device must be plugged into a computer by USB cable for the pharmacist to access it and to load the pills. The pharmacist then uses software created by the students to specify how often the pills can be retrieved each day.
Once the device is unplugged from the computer, it locks and dispenses only according to those instructions. As an added safety measure, patients must key in an access code on the bottle each time a pill is ready to dispense.
“It’s amazing to look at what we’ve created and to know that we did it,” said team member Ben Spence. “From concept to design to working prototype, we built this from the ground up – and it works just as it was designed to work….”
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.