As final college projects go, 3D printing a prosthetic device is a great choice for many reasons. A prosthetic arm is a good way to hone one’s 3D printing and design skills, as well as robotics in some cases. Plus, there can never be too many designs for 3D printed prosthetics out there – there are still many, many people in need around the world, and people with 3D printers are just beginning to help fill those needs.
3D printing a functional prosthetic device, especially one with robotic capabilities, isn’t the easiest task in the world though, so four students from MVJ College of Engineering in Bangalore, India had a challenge ahead of them when they decided to 3D print a robotic prosthetic arm for their final project. Before they even began designing the device, they had to do a good deal of research on how a human hand works and functions, so they could mimic those functions with 3D printed and robotic components.
It’s easy to take our hands for granted; we use them to do so much every day without even thinking about what we’re doing. Flexing, grasping, typing, reaching – those are only a few of the things we ask our hands to do, often without paying much attention. To get a prosthetic device to mechanically reproduce those tasks, though, a lot of thought and effort is required. Before they could begin programming their prosthetic arm to function like a natural arm, though, the students needed to 3D print the device, so they turned to Fracktal Works for help.
Fracktal Works is a Bangalore-based company whose most recent 3D printer release was the Julia+, the latest version of their original Julia 3D printer. They’ve also been responsible for producing some creative 3D printed work that we’ve admired in the past, such as this wooden watch. The company’s designers were happy to help the student team with their project. Fracktal Works helped the students to optimize their design for 3D printing and begin iterating it. The final device was 3D printed in PLA, in 40 parts, which then needed to be assembled.
A power source was then added, and 12 gestures were coded into the hand.
“The most difficult part was the fist movement, as the combined weight of the 3D printed fist and the components inside made the fist too heavy for a regular 9g servo which forced us to use a 90g servo thereby changing the entire layout of the forearm,” explained the students. “We had put in some extra room in the forearm which made the modification hinder free.”
With help from Fracktal Works, the team was able to circumvent any obstacles that arose in the design and assembly, and ended up with a working 3D printed hand that they attached to a 3D printed arm for a successful final project. The only thing that’s missing, perhaps, is a 3D printed wooden watch.
As companies involved in 3D printing work with the communities around them, projects such as this can be made possible by bringing together new ideas with technological expertise.
“We appreciate the efforts made by the company especially by Mr. Tushar Chawla and Mr. Kewal Swami for showing interest in our project and help[ing] us to overcome the bugs,” the students said of the assistance from Fracktal Works.
Discuss in the Fracktal Works forum at 3DPB.com.[Images provided by Fracktal Works]