If you follow the 3D printing space at all, then you are sure to have heard about the Robohand Project. It’s a project which helps individuals who are missing their hands, obtain a cheap, reliable, customizable, prosthetic which is constructed almost entirely from 3D printed parts. The Robohand was the creation of Richard Van As and Ivan Owen, and has helped better the lives of hundreds of individuals from children in war torn Sudan, to adults in the United States. Unlike traditional prosthetic devices offered to patients, which can cost well over $25,000, the 3D printed Robohand can be printed out on a 3D printer for around $50. Robohand sells the prosthetic fully assembled with medical grade orthoplastic for $500, which is still a bargain compared to the alternative.
The team behind Robohand was not satisfied with only helping those in the need of prosthetic hands, so they have since set out to create a Roboleg. A 3D printed leg prosthetic is much more difficult to create because the typical ABS or PLA plastic used with FDM based 3D printers generally lacks the strength to hold the weight of an average sized human being, over an extended period of time.
This was a tricky project, but with the help of a few metal rods, two pneumatic pumps, and some other minor parts, they have seemingly accomplished their goal. Yesterday they released a prototype photo of the first ever Roboleg, and this morning they showed off the very first production model, Roboleg Version 1.
The device allows for important knee and ankle movement, and appears to be relatively light-weight compared to its size. This amazing device is almost certain to follow in the footsteps of the Robohand and transform the accessibility and convenience of prosthetic devices for leg amputees. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments can be made for people of varying heights, and if future renditions will feature customized covers like that which Unyq.com offers.
Like the Robohand, this device will be open source, meaning there will likely be a nice amount of innovation from the maker community from this point forward. Discuss this prosthetic at the RoboLeg forum thread at 3DPB.com.