If we were to go back in time just 10 years, most of us would probably not have ever envisioned a person with only one hand playing a guitar — at least not anytime in the near future. Even just a few year ago, the possibility probably sounded like an outlandish one. Over the course of the past couple years, we have seen 3D printed prosthetic hands and arms come into existence, providing basic function to those who have been missing one or both of their extremities.
Sure, prosthetic hands have been around for decades, but they have always been extremely expensive and hard to come by. It wasn’t until a large volunteer group, called e-NABLE began creating and sharing design files for 3D printed prostheses, that possibilities ended up becoming virtually unlimited. Now, anyone with access to a 3D printer can print out a custom prosthetic hand in a matter of hours, at a cost of about $50.00.
While these prosthetic hands have been a life saver for some, they still remain limited in what they can do. For example, you can’t exactly play a guitar with one of these prostheses, can you?
Well, thanks to a company called 3Dglück, based in Columbia, one young man who is missing one of his hands, can now jam out on a guitar. He not only plays the guitar, but he can play better than most amateurs can.
It all started, when cofounders of 3Dglück, Juan Camilo Monroy, and Andrea Monroy met Diego Corredor.
“[Diego] told me about the experiences he had had before with prostheses,” explained Juan. “He said they were useful to grab a glass of water and drink it, but he could not find a purpose for them. It did not make sense so he preferred not to wear them. I also found out that he was a musician and his room had posters of all his favorite rock bands. He said he wanted to play the guitar.”
Juan, being a guitarist himself, couldn’t help but conjure up an idea for a “guitar-playing prosthetic hand”. After the two spoke a bit more about the possibilities that 3D printing provided, Juan learned that Diego would be more than happy to take part in a project to create a device that would allow him to ultimately play the guitar.
“Diego’s ambition was never to have a prosthesis that looked like a hand,” explained Juan. “He wanted a tool that would allow him to learn to play the guitar.”
Diego wanted a customized prosthesis that could do what he wanted, while also looking exactly the way he wanted it to. Since Diego is a huge Linkin Park Fan, Juan designed a Linkin Park theme hand, in the colors of his liking (black arm, with white fingers).
“3D printing technology is about to change the way we manufacture products,” explained Andrea. “Ths is the first step we (3Dglück) took to be part of this industry. We wanted to create something that was useful and that could increase Diego’s quality of life.”
That they certainly did. Diego, is continuing to learn to play the guitar, but as you can see in the video below, he already plays quite well. The next project for 3Dglück? How about a baseball playing hand, or a swimmers hand? Anything is possible.
What do you think about 3D printing’s ability to create custom tools like the one that 3Dglück created for Diego? Will we continue to see these possibilities expand in the coming months and years ahead? Discuss in the 3D Printed guitar-playing prosthesis forum thread on 3DPB.com.