From 3D printed walking sticks to prosthetic arms and robotic braces, 3D printing technology has often offered a helping hand to those who need assistive devices. We first heard about 3D printing non-profit organization Havenlabs in 2016. It was a busy time for the organization, which is made up of engineers and 3D prints prostheses for US war veterans. In a TEDx talk, co-founder River Castelonia highlighted the non-profit’s origins and plans, and soon after Havenlabs launched, it started a GoFundMe campaign in order to purchase a Formlabs Form 2 3D printer. Over the past year, it’s been working to further develop its organizational outreach plan to reach veterans. Now the team at Havenlabs has completed its second product – a 3D printed assistive device for upper limb amputees called the Utility Band.
“We wanted to create something that was simple and easy for people that are unfamiliar to 3D printing could use and assemble,” Castelonia told 3DPrint.com. “This is a modular device that aims to have both low cost and versatility in mind for amputees. With this we included two different attachments that can assist amputees by holding silverware and other various tools. This is open-source so that others in the community can develop their own tools for specific tasks.”
The open source design for the Utility Band is available on Thingiverse. The device can help upper limb amputees perform specific tasks, like using forks, spoons, and pencils. But unlike prosthetic limbs, it’s made to be removed once the task is complete, so the user should wear it with an “intended purpose.”
“The aim for this device was to create something that was both incredibly simple and versatile. We also wanted to create something that did not look too complicated to assemble so regardless if you are new to 3D printing or a seasoned maker it would make no difference,” Castelonia told us. “This device has only one flexible piece and the tools that interact with the device have a very simple assembly.”
Mohammad Hasani, a mechanical engineering graduate from the City College of New York (CCNY) and the Havenlabs team lead designer, is passionate about product design and led the charge on the Utility Band project.
“In Aug 2016 when I met River at Tesla, I was in love with his idea of 3D printable prosthetic hands. We had few conversations over the design and he accepted my request of joining the team. We developed more than 5 designs. The latest design was from scratch, a total new idea, for any type of amputated hand and customizable. Also, people with two partial arms could have more convenience to swap the tools for grabbing or picking different objects, with no need of others,” Hasani told 3DPrint.com.
“Our goal was to design a utility band instead of a robotic looking arm. We tried not use fingers or any eye-catching part. At last, we had the idea of Utility band. A velcro wrap and a top piece same as a watch. At this stage, we will focus on different tools that attach on top of the band. As of now we have tools for: holding a phone, fork, pen and cup. We are working on more efficient parts and tools. Havenlabs has many scheduled programs to achieve the top goal, help amputees and veterans in US and worldwide. We hope to find investments to continue our work to a point that no amputee would have difficulty for any type of activity.”
The goal for the Utility Band was a modular platform that could work with the tools Havenlabs creates, like its current tool and silverware holders, along with any other tools the open source community comes up with. The organization 3D printed its Utility Band on a LulzBot Mini 3D printer, using Ninjaflex filament. Loctite Super Glue was used to attach the Solid Slider device to a Velcro band. It prints out with no rafts and no supports.
Castelonia told us that Havenlabs will soon be releasing more tools for its simple Utility Band platform, such as holders for phones and cups.
“The platform is very simple and we hope that it can allow others to create unique tools for different actions to share with the open source community,” Castelonia told 3DPrint.com. “This device was inspired by the sacrifices of our veterans and we are incredibly grateful for their service. It is the blood, sweat and tears of these men and women that push us in our mission of helping others. My grandfather played a very big role in my up bringing and helped to shape me into the person I am today. He was a medic in the Air Force for 25 years and his stories of war he would speak of growing up helped to put a lot in perspective for me as a young adult today. My grandfather is a major reason for why we are doing what we are doing and can also say he is my best friend.
“We really hope this open-source device can help our veteran amputees as well as those who may be in need of a device with this kind of versatility.”
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