3D-manufactured open-source hands improving lives

For the last year and a half, designers Richard Van As and Ivan Owen have collaborated remotely on a reasonably priced prosthesis to assist people with missing fingers. Commercially available prosthetics exist, but can run $10,000 per digit or more for externally powered designs. The fruit of Van As and Owen's labors is now posted on Thingaverse, an online repository of downloadable open-source files that can be used to build designs with 3D printers, lasercutters, CNC, and more.

Billed the Robohand, Van As and Owen's prosthesis is a simple cable-operated assembly of 3D-printed linkages, bolts, cords, bungees, and rubber finger cots from the "Sorting Aid" section of any OfficeMax. In short, the mechanical design's cables — which travel wrist cuff to fingertips — trace a more curved arch during wrist or finger-stub curls. Therefore, the prosthesis fingers bend to grasp objects when the wearer flexes inward.

Several versions, including one built for a South-African tyke, are already in use. Watch little Liam master his prosthesis with heartwarming tenacity.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Product Design Engineering?

Existing and emerging technologies immediately applicable to product design, as well as industry trends that promise to change engineering.

Contributors

Elisabeth Eitel

Elisabeth is Senior Editor of Machine Design magazine. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Fenn College at Cleveland State University. Over the last decade, Elisabeth has worked as a...
Blog Archive
Connect With Us

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×