The last time we wrote about the Youbionic 3D printed robotic prosthetic hand, it was finally available for pre-order. It’s been quite a journey since Federico Ciccarese founded the company two years ago and began developing its bionic, electronically controlled prosthetic hand; he tells us that “after so much work I am proud to show you what we have created.” This 3D printed robotic hand, with an Arduino board as its brain, is unique, in that it can be worn and controlled through muscle contractions just like a real hand; this makes it very different from prosthetics designed by organizations like e-NABLE. The original prototype was created using SLS printing, with flexible materials.
Thanks to the hard work of the Youbionic team, the prosthetic hand was ready for human trials only a year after they first developed the groundbreaking idea. They have been committed to a serious R&D journey, focusing a large part of their research into muscular fibers, and the results clearly show it, as this complex device could transform the world of prosthetics. The hand can accomplish basic and complex movements, and it was developed by combining the main skeletal structure with rotational transportation leveraging mechanisms, synchronized to obtain a double rotation.
According to the website, “Youbionic devices will enable a person to perform movements that would otherwise be impossible. They are characterized by flexible geometries that perform like muscles, that contract and release like fibers, to best execute any movement, as if they were biological limbs.”
The prosthetic hands use a sophisticated Arduino board to provide robotic movements. The Youbionic team created a system of intuitive biomimicking muscle sensors that work off the computer software, and allow the hand to respond to what is an intended movement, based on signals sent from the wearer’s brain. They saw 3D printing as the only viable option for the device, due to its durability and flexibility. What is even more impressive is that the team is able to make the hand in one single print!
The Youbionic prosthetic hand will cost €1200 (roughly $1355 USD), and the price, while it may seem high, is definitely worth it. First, it’s already 40 times lower than traditional prosthetic hands, and the team specifically used standard servers, sensors, and electronics in order to offer more affordability. One of the other great features of the Youbionic hand is its easy replacement of electronics, actuators, and any additional 3D printed parts. This makes it easier to modify with new parts, which is especially helpful for children, as they constantly grow out of their existing prosthetics.
According to their website, Youbionic is still looking for investors who are “interested in financing our research & development activities, in order to take the Youbionic prosthetic hand from a potentially disrupting concept to a finalized product that can change the lives of thousands of people.” It doesn’t look like they plan on stopping at just the prosthetic hand, either.
Ciccarese told 3DPrint.com, “I am designing this as an extremely versatile device, I have arranged Youbionic Hand to work by replacing a missing arm but also in support of existing arm so as to increase physical capabilities. In the next few years we will see the arrival of bionics and limbs worn in the newspaper to help us carry out chores at home, on a journey, in the workplace and certainly also in the spare time. In 2017 we will be able to show the results of the work that I have done with the University of Siena on a great project that can multiply the functions of Youbionic hand, I’m talking about an Exoskeleton. Thanks to this ecosystem of devices we will be able to transport the senses and perceive remotely.”
We are excited to see what they come up with next, and to hear how the Youbionic hand is performing out in the real world. To get a closer look at how the Youbionic hand works with the wearer’s body, watch the video of Ciccarese trying it out:
Discuss in the Youbionic forum at 3DPB.com.