KATY, Texas — Acid reflux caused Paul Guidry to lose a big chunk of his throat to cancer, and now he has to use an electronic voice box if he wants to speak.
"This creates a tone. A noise," said Guidry. "The tubes throats the noise to the back of my mouth. And that’s how I’m able to talk."
But the problem is, a part of the device didn't work too well. Specifically, the oral adaptor that holds the tube.
Guidry said the tube cracked a lot and cost him $30 to replace.
Guidry's wife, a teacher at Katy ISD Miller Career and Technology Center, knew a student could figure out a better way.
"I want to be an engineer when I grow up," said Jurgis Miksenas. "I just like making things."
All Miksenas needed was three weeks and a 3D printer.
"We modified the design to add a barb top, so when you slide the tube on it, it doesn’t slide off," Guidry said. "The first one was too thin. He made it thicker. Then the tip broke off. So he made the tip stronger.
Miksenas said he even added some personal touches to the voice box, like Guidry's name.
Seven prototypes later, Guidry is now able to fix his voice box for about $4.
The custom redesign of Guidry's oral adapter is so good, Miksenas is now headed to a statewide engineering competition.
Guidry is convinced the 18-year-old will win. Though, Miksenas feels like he already did.
"I’ve found my purpose and I think my purpose is helping people," he said.
The teen plans to upload his design to the internet for free so others can 3D print the part.