Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Yu-Lia Gains a 3D Printed Hand Prosthetic; e-NABLE Volunteer Successfully Takes on Challenging Pinching Design

ST Medical Devices

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e-NABLE_logo_500x500Projects regarding e-NABLE and 3D printed prosthetics are undoubtedly some of our favorites to write about.  Using 3D printing to all its benefit, this is an organization that does massive good all around the world, and truly changes lives for many who may never have imagined having an affordable, customized hand or arm prosthetic–or a prosthetic at all, for that matter.

And just like every 3D printed prosthetic is able to be customized and unique, each of the stories we’ve followed from e-NABLE has been different, and completely inspiring in creativity, helpfulness, and the spirit of humanity and giving. When e-NABLE volunteer Martin van Wezel saw both the opportunity and challenge in being able to create a 3D printed hand for a recipient named Yu-Lia, he grasped the opportunity.

One who enjoys using his problem-solving skills, Martin had already designed a Raptor hand for a previous recipient. For the next project, he had actually requested to volunteer for something different and more complex–hoping to be matched with someone exhibiting an ‘upper limb difference’ that one of the typical designs did not accommodate.

“I am a senior Continuous Improvement Manager in a Biotechnology company. In short, I am responsible for process optimization and innovative process design in a packaging plant. I am a graphic designer by education and the two worlds are combined in my hobby – creative expression and a mind to solve problems,” says Martin.

UntitledAsking for more challenge–and receiving it–Martin was given the project of developing a 3D design for Yu-Lia who is not only missing her thumb and index finger, but her ring and pinky fingers are merged into one as well. Along with this issue, her wrist turns away, so she had not previously been compatible with any of the e-NABLE hands already made.

“The design is based on the ‘pinch’ motion which is crucial for good hand function,” said Martin. “Yu-Lia still had a functioning finger which I integrated into the design function to act as the index finger.”

“In this design, I used a 3D scan of her hand and modeled the hand around it. The mechanics are similar to the Raptor but do not rely heavily on the movement of Yu-Lia’s remaining finger, which essentially pulls the 3D printed ‘thumb.’”

Using Fusion360 for design, Martin made four prototypes in total, with the last actually being in testing by Yu-Lia now.

On an interesting note, the fingers for Yu-Lia’s hand are purely aesthetic. They do not function at all as they are of no use to the recipient. Central to the design are three alternative tensioner links to provide different levels of leverage in the tensioning wire. The links are connected to the tensioner using short pieces of 3mm filament.

The most challenging part of the project for Martin was having to schedule time for fittings rather than having complete access to working on the piece. He said it was quite a “‘free-time’ challenge at home.”

yblog2It took Martin about 5 months to get from the initial fitting, through the various prototypes and then to the final version of the device for Yu-Lia. He has also shared his designs for Yu-Lia’s prosthetic on YouMagine. With an open-source file, it allows for even greater customizations–and options–to be opened up for those in need.

“Volunteers like Martin remind us that we all have the ability to make positive change in the world by using the skills we have, finding ways to use our hobbies and our free time to make a difference in the lives of others and using the power of our ideas, creativity and imaginations to gift the world with ways to help one another ,” says the e-NABLE team, inviting all interested in volunteering or donating, to find out more here.

What are your thoughts on this design?  Let us know in the 3D Printed Hand forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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