Derby student creates diabetic pump with 3D printing

Robbie Cooper used 3D printing and laser cutting technology to design and build an insulin pump for diabetics

A Derby Grammar School student who created an improved version of a pump that delivers insulin to diabetics as part of his studies has scored top grades in his A-levels.

Robbie Cooper, of Denstone, achieved an A* in Design Technology, a B in Maths and a B in Physics and will go on to The University of Exeter to study Engineering.

The 18-year-old was given the idea for the diabetic pump project by his Design Technology teacher who attends courses about diabetes in order to support students with the condition.

Robbie spoke to fellow students who have diabetes and contacted a diabetes nurse at the Royal Derby Hospital who gave him advice about what improvements could be made to the pump.

Insulin pumps are an alternative to injections for some people with Type 1 diabetes. They are small devices that deliver a steady flow of short-acting insulin around the clock through a plastic tube to a cannula inserted just under the skin. Some pumps sit directly on the skin and are called ‘patch pumps’.

Robbie looked at how he could improve the patch pump.

He said: “The one thing that came up was that you have to regularly prick your finger to test your glucose levels to see if you need to adjust the insulin so this could be every time you eat. People I spoke to said that would be a good idea if that could be changed.”

“The pump that I designed could do this test for you, the cannula is inside your body anyway so that can do the blood test. I also redesigned the motor that delivers the insulin and that was the hardest part. I used 3D printed parts and laser cut parts to create the device.”

It’s been the most interesting project that I have worked on and the best thing is that it has a purpose and that purpose is quite important. – Robbie Cooper

Robbie, who is Head Prefect at Derby Grammar School, has been working on designs since September 2017 and spent two weeks making the pump.

He said: “It’s been the most interesting project that I have worked on and the best thing is that it has a purpose and that purpose is quite important.”

The teenager said he was thrilled with his results.

He said: “I had already been on the UCAS website and found out that I’d got my first choice university and I was so pleased, I’m just over the moon. I just can’t wait to get to Exeter now, I go in three weeks so there’ll be lots of shopping before then.”

There has been a large rise in the number of A*-B grades in this year’s A-Level results at Derby Grammar School.

In STEM subjects, 83 per cent of grades were A*-C and in A-Level Maths 80 per cent of grades were A*-C. One hundred per cent of the grades in Further Maths were A* and 90 per cent of the grades in A-Level Physics were A*-C.

Dr Ruth Norris, Headteacher at Derby Grammar School, praised the A-Level students.

She said: “We are full of admiration and praise for our pupils’ achievements. The post-16 world of education has undergone such immense change and increase in rigour in the last few years that these outstanding results are even more of a cause for celebration. Success at A-Level is a key threshold in the lives of our youngsters and we wish them the very best as they spread their wings and take flight in the adult world of work or higher education: they have an exciting future ahead.”

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