One of the biggest areas in which 3D printing is making its largest impact, is within the field of prostheses. Whether it is prosthetic leg sockets, custom prosthetic hands and arms, or even prostheses that replace missing parts of the human face, 3D printing is making huge advancements, not only in the technology available, but to the bottom line of patients’ bank accounts as well.
Over the past few months we have covered a company based in the United Kingdom, called OpenBionics, but there is also another organization that goes by the same name (different website) and actually does similar work. Both of these groups specialize in creating 3D printed robotic/prosthetic arms.
Today’s story is about an initiative run by five men, Minas Liarokapis, Agisilaos Zisimatos, Christoforos Mavrogiannis, George Kontoudis, and Kostas Kyriakopoulos, as part of OpenBionics.org. Late last week they contacted 3DPrint.com with an update, one which stands to change the landscape within the prostheses industry, if successful. The group just launched their project into the Hackaday Prize Competition, and also released more details to the public.
The OpenBionics initiative presents to the public their new open source design for their myoelectric prosthetic hand. This hand weighs less than 300 grams, and costs less than $200 to make. While it isn’t fully 3D printed like several other prosthetic hands that we have reported on in the past, this one does include many 3D printed elements. The rest of the parts are easily obtainable online or in local hardware/electronics stores. Once completely assembled, this hand can do some really incredible things.
“A novel differential mechanism, based on the whiffletree, allows the user to block the motion of each finger independently and facilitates the execution of 144 different grasps with only 1 actuator,” the company told 3DPrint.com. “The design is based on parametric models of hand anthropometry studies so it can easily be personalized to specific patients.”
This mechanism allows users to block the motion of any finger using a simple button. This allows for 16 different index, middle, ring and pinky finger combinations, using the single motor on the hand. These can then be combined with 9 different positions that the thumb can be set in. If you multiply these two numbers together (9X16), you will see where the 144 different grasping postures come from. It really is quite the incredible innovation.
The company also says that it is the lightest weight prosthetic hand ever proposed, as well as the most affordable. Although, many would argue the latter. The hand is also able to be personalized for individual use, on a one to one basis.
“Τhe use of parametric models derived from human hand anthropometry studies, allows for the development of personalized prosthesis,” they explain. “The only parameters that we need in order to derive the finger phalanges lengths and the personalized finger base frames positions and orientations, are the human hand length (HL) and the human hand breadth (HB).”
For those interested in seeing the design files for this hand, you can download them for free at the OpenBionics website. OpenBionics asks that anyone interested in having a design created of this hand, for themselves, contact them via their website, and provide them with the desired specifications such as hand length and breadth. What do you think about this incredibly innovation on behalf of OpenBionics? Will this revolutionize the prosthetic hand space? Discuss in the OpenBionics forum thread on 3DPB.com. Be sure to check out some of the videos and photos below.