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3D-Printing Mechanical Hands

3D Printing & Imaging Biohacking
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This is really cool, a MakerBot Industries-supported 3D printable prosthetic hand project.

When Richard Van As, a master carpenter in Johannesburg, South Africa, decided to make a set of mechanical fingers, it wasn’t just for fun. He’d lost four of the fingers on his right hand in an unfortunate work accident. For a tradesman like Rich, having a disabled hand is a big professional detriment, so Richard decided on the day of his the incident that he would use the tools available to him to remedy his situation. Watch the inspiring video above to hear how Richard’s project, Robohand, is changing lives with patience, spirit, and a MakerBot Replicator 2.

You can check out the project’s current designs on Thingiverse. [via RasterWeb]

14 thoughts on “3D-Printing Mechanical Hands

  1. David says:

    As an hand amputee, it would not work for me but for what it does for others, it REALLY does inspire awe. Awe-Inspiring !! AWESOME !!!

    1. clide says:

      It would probably be possible to use this same type of design powered by elbow movement instead of wrist, but it would be a bit more awkward to use because you’d have to move you’re whole torso to position your hand.

      1. zachary says:

        hmmm impossible? Did they say the same about Robohand? Sounds like a challenge…

      2. David says:

        Yes possible and probable. Just not my lifestyle. At just above the wrist, I’m lucky I have a long forearm for reach and leverage. I do farm / garden work and the forearm socket usually has a half-inch pointed drill rod for digging weed roots with power cable “disabled”. I rarely use the hooks except for a few projects. Normally I do w/o the limb and drive stick, roll my own tobacco, use pole pruners, loppers, and have three chainsaws. Modern electronic units are good or necessary for many people but terminal power and power source are limited and they are delicate so a back-up mechanical unit is useful for when the hi-tech unit is in the shop.

        Since building my own socket and repairing the harness, I have not been to a prosthetic maker in decades so my following info on the mechanics may be outdated but I doubt it. It should give an insight into what is involved.

        The given unit is hand-wrist powered. Power input stages can be added. As you say, next is the elbow.
        Then as example:
        Mechanical For BE (Below Elbow):
        A stump can push and lift but not pull, hence “The Hook”.
        Mechanical hooks open and close by a harness across the back to opposite shoulder (Fig.8 / Shoulder Holster) pulling the power cable. Variations in inhaling, spreading of shoulders, tightening of back muscles to bulk them, and extension of elbow and forearm are all coordinated in space and time. Awkward indeed but it become automatic. Practice is picking up potato chips. Passing is picking up cigarette ash.

        Shoulder amputees:
        Upper prosthetic arm is static.
        Hook opening is by conventional harness across back to opposite shoulder.
        To raise and lower forearm at elbow:
        Strap circles chest. An elbow hinge lock is on / off by chin operated button on chest.
        Expansion of chest by inhaling and tightening of chest muscles to bulk them, powers the cable to raise the forearm.
        Sequence: Inhale to take up tension, hit elbow release / lock on chest with chin, expand / contract chest to raise / lower forearm, hit elbow lock / release on chest with chin.

  2. P-money says:

    Faith In Humanity, Restored!

    1. melvin says:

      it is good to see something made to help everyone. would be nice to have a ton of 3d projects to help everyone around that has lost a limb

  3. benji19994 says:

    Wow This is amazing!

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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