In 2014, a company called Youbionic emerged with an exciting goal: the development of a 3D printed bionic hand controlled by an Arduino. Unlike prosthetics that require cables and wires to move, the Youbionic hand would respond to the wearer’s muscle movements. While bionic hands such as these typically cost thousands of dollars, Youbionic founder Federico Ciccarese planned to offer the prosthetic for only a fraction of the cost.
In the years since the Youbionic hand was first conceptualized, additional steps toward affordable bionics have been taken; just recently, for example, the Open Bionics Hero Arm became the first 3D printed bionic prosthetic device to become medically approved. The Youbionic hand has evolved as time has gone on, as well, moving toward clinical trials and into the pre-order phase within two years of it originally being announced. The bionic hand is now available from the company’s website for €1,499 – typically, bionic limbs are priced in the €50,000 range.
Ciccarese and his team didn’t stop there, though; the company has come out with some even more incredible concepts, like a 3D printed double hand device. Even as they’re dreaming up new ideas like that, however, they are continuing to work on improving and augmenting the original Youbionic hand, and recently checked in with an update on the design.
“Today humanity is going through an unprecedented historical period, any of us have access to technologies and tools to create high-level devices that can change deeply the world we live in, making mankind evolve towards goals more and more ambitious,” Ciccarese told 3DPrint.com.
“The future of robotics is in the hands of those who know how to observe in depth the nature, they collect the significant aspects and design by starting from the white sheet.”
The newest version of the Youbionic hand has several new features and improvements. It has been optimized for resistance and the arm itself has been completely redesigned. It features an innovative back made with generative design software, replacing the smooth surface with one that resembles the back of some prehistoric creature, with triangles that lift into points. It has, Ciccarese told us, “new connect complete with interfaces and sensors designed to be performed and compact,” and it has been upgraded with the latest firmware version, with more responsive control and advanced position features.
There are more updates and innovations coming soon, said Ciccarese, though he can’t go into too much detail at the moment.
“I am planning within a very special path,” he told us. “Study during the day on the geometries and shapes of nature, I extract the algorithms and apply them to Youbionic devices. I also use this math to implement functions to the installed software.
“I have just completed a very thorough study on the human body and, together with generative design, I am working on the next devices.”
For those who are missing limbs and have experienced the frustration of trying to obtain a decent, affordable prosthetic device, now is an exciting time as these advanced bionics are developed and made affordable and accessible.
The Youbionic hand is already a marvel of engineering, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
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