e-NABLING Light! This 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand Features a Beautiful Color Sensing Light Show

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Debbie Leung's 3D Printed Hand

Debbie Leung’s 3D Printed Hand

In what seems to be an area of 3D printing that is growing at an exponential rate, 3D printed prosthetic hands have become quite the attention grabber as of late. Led by a group of volunteers called e-NABLE, these hands started out receiving acclaim for the mere fact that they are an affordable solution for children who normally can not get ahold of traditional prosthetics. Now we are beginning to see an evolutionary process occur where creativity and design work is starting to pay off in ways which we could have never imagined.

These hands are mainly built for children. Children normally don’t have access to quality prosthetic hands because they outgrow them so quickly. Insurance companies are reluctant to pay for devices that will only fit a child for less than a couple years. This leaves most kids without a viable solution. Then came along e-NABLE with their various open source models of prosthetic hands, which can be 3D printed on a consumer level 3D printer for around $50 per device. We have seen many different designs, most of which operate using the same typical engineered method.

We can’t forget that children like things that are colorful, interesting, and desirable to their peers. This is one reason why the robotic looking e-NABLE hands, such as the Cyborg Beast have become so popular. Now, with e-NABLE reaching over 1700 members worldwide, we are beginning to see more and more creative ideas pop up, that cater specifically to children.

Last week we reported on the 3D printed Wolverine hand, and there have been some other super hero hands developed as well. These are ways to cater to the liking of children, who normally would be self conscious about their disabilities. The fun, innovative designs that we are beginning to see, allow these children to possess something that their friends do not have, rather than the other way around.

Now, there is yet another new type of 3D printed prosthetic hand to add to your list. The 3D Printed “Light Show” hand does exactly what it sounds like. It puts on quite the incredible light show. Designed by Debbie Leung, with help from her husband Danny, the hand features RGB LED lights that can display red, yellow, blue, cyan, green, magenta, and white in sequence repeatedly.


“The light show hand is designed based on the Cyborg beast and for the Orlando MakerFaire as a fun demo,” Leung told us. “I notice children love LED lights and (this hand has) different light patterns that makes it more interesting. [Children] like something interactive! Light also intrigues me. Light has a dual wave particle nature and it is often discussed in Physics. I think [the] fun experience with the combination of technology and creativity does make children wonder how things work and make them curious. This is my intention.”

Leung has only been experimenting with 3D printing for about a year now, but as an electrical engineer at Polar Semiconductor, she has quite the experience when it comes to electronics. She used her skills, with the help of her husband to create this new prosthetic hand. Besides being capable of putting on a very nice light show (like seen in the video), it can also detect colors using its color sensor.

“It has a switch, Leung told us. “You switch [on] one side, and all the RGB LED lights emit red, yellow, green, blue, magenta, cyan and white color in a sequence repeatedly. [If] you switch [on] the other side, the color sensor turns on and [can] detect red, green and blue by pushing against the side of the palm with an [colored] object where color sensing components are located.”

The prosthetic hand responding to the green marker via sensor.

The prosthetic hand responding to the green marker via sensor.

For example, if you put a blue comb up to the sensor, the lights will blink in various colors before settling on the color blue. It adds a fun feature to the hand, a hand that will certainly grab the attention of the wearer’s peers, for a reason unlike what most children with missing hands are used to.

Featuring two Adruino programs that run the RGB LED lights in the two ways mentioned above, along with a photoresistor, the RGB LED lights, resistors, a button,  two Attiny85 parts, and four button cell batteries, this hand can be made by anyone with access to a 3D printer.  While it was not built for any child in particular, without a doubt someone will probably end up with it, as well as one of many others that will be built in the future. It doesn’t stop there though. Leung still has more planned. “I want to continue to improve the physical design that put electronic components on top of the palm or some place else so children can wear it with comfort just in time for Halloween.”

Since this hand remains open source, it should be interesting to see how others take the design, modify it and come up with their own unique twists, in the ever evolving process of creating 3D printed prosthetic hands.

What do you think? Do you like this latest hand from e-NABLE? Discuss in the 3D Printed “light show” prosthetic hand forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out some more photos provided to us by Debby Leung below:






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