Over the course of the past year or so, we have really begun to see all sorts of new designs pop up on the internet for 3D printed prosthetic hands. The vast majority of these are targeted toward children with amniotic band syndrome, as well as children who are missing their upper limbs for other reasons. A group of volunteers, called e-NABLE has been advancing the design and printing of these hands at a very rapid pace. Just this past weekend, they had a large conference at John Hopkins Hospital in Maryland, where they built and gave away 229 3D printed prosthetic hands to children and veterans of war.
The latest and greatest model of hand that e-NABLE has been working on, is called the “Raptor Hand”. It is designed to be more easily 3D printed and constructed by virtually anyone. With improved documentation, easier and quicker printing and assembly, and no need for the screws that were required in previous models, this is the one that the majority of people will be printing out until the next great advancement is made.
You may recall, earlier this month, we reported on a man named Aaron Brown, who had realized that children like fun, attention grabbing things. In this realization, Brown created what he called the “Wolverine Hand“. It was a hand modeled after the fictional X-Men character who has become quite popular as of late, thanks to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal in recent movies. The hand, Brown felt, would take the attention off of these kids’ disabilities and instead make them feel like they were “superheroes”.
Now Aaron Brown has changed his focus a little bit, at least for the moment. He has also come to the realization that there are many individuals out there, who have served their countries in the military, only to be left without part of an upper limb. There are also many active adults who can not afford prosthetic hands, or simply don’t like the way that traditional prosthetics look, feel, or limit them in their everyday activities.
Brown’s new prosthetic hand is called the “Wounded Soldier Raptor”. It is based on the latest Raptor Hand design, but it is designed for active adults, and is targeted towards those who have been wounded in the line of duty.
“Enable will be showing this hand for the first time to some injured soldiers and a veterans hospital group [who attended] the conference on Saturday,” Brown told 3DPrint.com. “For someone missing a hand, I think it is a beautiful thing. Imagine fighting for your country, but needing someone to cut your steak for you. That can be a very low and timid feeling.”
The hand, which is equipped with a Picatinny rail system, allows for virtually any tools or accessories to be attached. Examples which Brown has created are a flashlight holder, as well as an attached utility knife. The possibilities really are endless though. This creation may be the start of a system that actually might provide more abilities for the disabled person than an individual with a fully functioning hand may have.
“This knife is one example with the mount built right into the handle,” Brown told us. “It is a KA-BAR pistol Bayonet, and the beauty is it only costs $13, so I am still able to keep the cost of this hand under $100. For the flashlight mount I customized, and 3D printed a bracket out of Carbon Fiber. The simplicity of these rails makes the idea of mounting nearly ANYTHING a possibility. It would be very easy to print a bracket for anything from a marker, toothbrush, spoon, paintbrush, and nearly anything we can imagine. “
If you do a simple search on Thingiverse for Picatinny rail, over 85 different results come up. There are an endless amount of ideas that may come about from this unique open source design that Brown hopes will make the lives of many individuals more complete.
While 3D printed guns and other weapons have caused quite a controversy as of late, Brown hopes people don’t view this new prosthetic hand in that same light.
“My biggest worry is how people will see the utility knife,” explained Brown. “I worry so many people will just see it as a dangerous weapon, [and that’s] not what I am going for at all. There has been previous questions posted about the difficulty in cooking, and eating with limb differences. Trying to slice a tomato or carrots one handed would of course be a chore, and always needing someone to cut your food could be an inconvenience or even a loss of pride to someone trying to maintain independence and self-worth. On top of that, camping, fishing and many simple daily tasks can be handled much easier with a good utility knife, and a free hand (if available).”
On top of providing for the attachment of many useful tools and accessories, the Wounded Soldier Hand also is colored using a camouflaged color scheme. It is printed with ColorFabb Olive Green, provided to Brown by Matt Gordon at PrintedSolid.com, as well as a couple different shades of dark brown filament provided by Jeremy Simon.
In addition to the objects that can be attached to the hand with a Picatinny track system, Brown also added in a Velcro attachment for a smartphone which can make answering, calling, and talking on the phone much more simple for someone with a missing hand. Using a $3 phone case that he purchased from Amazon, he stuck a square of soft Velcro on the back. This allows the phone to be mounted directly onto the palm or the forearm of the prosthetic.
We haven’t seen too many 3D printed prosthetic hands developed targeting adults, as most of the focus has been on creating devices that children can use. However, like children, adults also find it difficult to find a reliable prostehtic hand that can do exactly what they need it to do. With a cost of production still under $100 even when you factor in the price of the flashlight and utility knife, this could open a lot of doors for active adults who just want to gain the use of their missing upper limb.
What do you think about this latest innovatively design 3D printed prosthetic hand from Aaron Brown? Discuss in the Wounded Soldier Prosthetic Hand forum thread on 3DPB.com.