It’s no surprise that among those who are the most excited about the near-future of additive manufacturing possibilities are those in the medical field. Whether it’s a neurosurgeon who is experimenting with on-demand customized skull implants or a five-year old who is suffering from Amniotic Band Syndrome, the power that a $2,000 mini-factory yields is truly revolutionary in this industry alone. But while a 3D printer may be able to create anything on-demand, it is not without it’s own material and design limitations…especially when comfort, strength, and reliability are of the utmost importance for most medical products. In this recently-released video from 3Duniverse.org however, we get an intimate look into why a 3D printed hand just might be a better solution than an existing prosthesis costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Having been born without most of his left hand, 53-year old Jose Delgado, Jr has spent his entire life adapting to his condition through a variety of prosthetic options. After contacting E-Nable member Jeremy Simon asking if he could create him a 3D printed prosthetic left hand, Jeremy used the opportunity to fit Jose with a ‘Cyborg Beast‘ designed by Jorge Zuniga, an assistant professor of exercise science at Creighton University.
Due to Jorge’s physically-demanding work environment, Jeremy had low expectations for the ABS hand but figured it was worth a shot anyways. Surprisingly, after nearly a half-century of using a variety of prosthetic devices, Jose said he actually prefers the 3D Printed hand to the more expensive options due to it’s simple mechanical design and ability to replicate if a piece breaks:
“This 3D printed prosthesis is a completely mechanical design. There are a series of non-flexible cords running along the underside of each finger, connecting to a “tensioning block” on the top rear of the device (the “gauntlet”). The tension is caused by bending the wrist downward. With the wrist in its natural resting position, the fingers are extended, with a natural inward curve. When the wrist is bent 20-30 degrees downward, the non-flexible cords are pulled, causing the fingers and thumb to bend inwards. A second series of flexible cords run along the tops of the fingers, causing the fingers to return automatically when tension is released.”
Currently, Jeremy is working with Jose to upgrade the Cyborg Beast to a lighter and stronger material.
For more info on the non-profit maker community E-Nable, head over to their Facebook page.
(Images via 3DUniverse)