3D Printing Goes Hand in Hand with Iron Man Inspired Prosthetic

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It’s exciting how much 3D printing has enabled us to produce pretty much any shape for any purpose on the fly. Among the most thoughtful uses for the technology that we’ve seen are the many functioning and often beautiful prosthetics that not only succeed in restoring the use of a limb, but also deliver an air of style and self-expression to the wearer. The immediate nature of the technology allows for models to be designed and produced rapidly at a low-cost, which works excellently for growing children. [Pat Starace’s] Iron Man inspired 3D printed hand and forearm are a perfect example of such personality and expert engineering… with an added dash of hacker flair.

With over twenty years of experience in animatronics behind him, [Starace] expertly concealed all of the mechanical ligaments within the design of his arm, producing a streamline limb with all the nuance of lifelike gesture. It was important that the piece not only work, but give the wearer that appropriate super hero-like feeling while wearing it. He achieves this with all the bells and whistles hidden within the negative space of the forearm, which give the wearer an armory of tricks up their sleeve. Concealed in the plating, [Starace] uses an Arduino and accelerometer to animate different sets of LEDs as triggered by the hand’s position coupled with specific voice commands. Depending on what angle the wrist is bent at, the fingers will either curl into a fist and reveal hidden ‘lasers’ on the back of the hand, or spread open around a pulsing circle of light on the palm when thrust outward.

The project took [Starace] quite a bit of time to print all the individual parts; around two days worth of time. This however is still considered quick in comparison to the custom outfitting and production of traditional prosthetics… not to mention, the traditional stuff wouldn’t have LEDs. This piece has a noble cause, and is an exciting example of how 3D printing is adding a level of heroism to everyday life.

Thank you Julius for pointing out this awesome project to us!

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E-Nable(ing) Shea to Build a Prosthetic Hand for Herself!

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Here’s a heartwarming story for the day. Introducing [Shea], a little 9-year-old girl with a prosthetic hand made possible from a community of internet strangers!

She was born with only the palm of her right hand and a two-digit thumb — no fingers. Despite this day and age, prosthetics aren’t generally that good, or affordable — especially for a quickly growing young girl. So when [Shea] asked for a new hand from Santa before Christmas, her mom, [Ranee], started doing some research online. She had seen 3D printed prosthetics through Facebook posts and managed to track down the E-Nable group, which is a community of maker’s dedicated to lending a hand — quite literally.

The group got her in touch with [Nick Parker], a high school student and robotics enthusiast from California eager to help, who then introduced her (online) to his local Makerspace — from there they connected with the Milwaukee Makerspace (closer to home), and [Frankie Flood], an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Make the World takes on Crowdsourcing Prosthetics

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Tonight marks the launch of a new program from Adafruit focused on improving the availability of prosthetic designs. The program will be highlighted in four Google+ Hangouts over the coming month. Mark your calendars for 8pm Eastern Time to join in on the one-hour launch.

We’ve seen a fair number of prosthetic hacks over the years, and every time one is featured we try to drive home the importance of sharing information in order to build upon the advances of others. The power of this is clear, shown in a $150 3D printed hand for a child, hackers that are replacing their own limbs or digits, and the sharing of diy fabrication techniques to help bring prostheses to the developing world. So get excited, get involved, and get hacking!

Prosthetic foot and ankle have amazingly natural movement

The natural movement and functional power of the ankle and foot during a step , while appearing fairly simple, are amazingly difficult to replicate with a prosthetic. Usually it requires a fast and fairly powerful motor to provide the forward push and then whip that foot up as we pull our leg forward. However, recent projects have managed to do some amazing jobs at achieving this difficult task. Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel has released the video (below the break) of the “AMP-Foot 2.0″ that pulls this off very well.

The main idea behind the AMP-Foot 2.0 is to have the actuator work longer with a lower power rating while the produced energy is stored in elastic elements and released when needed for propulsion. The device is designed to provide 100% of push-off for a 75 kg subject walking at normal cadence on ground level.

[via Engadget]

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Replacing a finger or an arm in the hacker tradition

Just a few weeks ago we were wondering if we’d try to build our own prosthesis if we were ever to lose a limb. This pair of hacks answers that query with a resounding “YES!”.

To the right is a replacement pointer finger. The missing digit took the first two knuckles with it, but there’s enough left to easily interface with this creation. It’s a mechanically clever assembly that moves as you would expect the original to. See for yourself after the break. It seem the maker intended to mold silicone around the structure but never got around to posting an update video.

On the left we have a chinese man who lost his arms while fishing. It seems they were using homemade bombs instead of nets and one went off prematurely. Since then he’s constructed several different prosthetic arms, each with its own special purpose. This one has a saw connected to it but these two write ups on the man show images of him using a fork and wielding a hammer.

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Building a prosthetic leg from scratch

[Radek] from Poland sent in a neat video of a bionic prosthetic leg he made for one of his patients. Even though [Radek] says it’s a ‘prototype of a prototype,’ we’d have to agree with him that it’s a very neat build that could provide inexpensive motorized prosthetic legs to amputees in the future.

[Radek] has been working on his project for about two years now, after building the motor and electronics by hand. The leg is powered by 1.5 kilogram battery pack – no details on the chemistry of the batteries, but [Radek] says it will last 12 hours on one charge. There are also small vibration sensors in the leg for a bit of feedback, and a few switches so the knee joint can be operated by the stump.

If you’re wondering where [Radek] got the proper tools and materials to make a carbon fiber prosthesis, he works for Carbon Prosthetics where builds simple prosthetic devices. His bionic leg creation looks really cool, and he says the final product will be much less expensive than the very high-end bionic prosthetic legs.

[Radek] was kind enough to share some more videos and a few pictures of his robotic prosthetic leg; you can check those out after the break.

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Learn a new fabrication technique from DIY prosthetics builders

This is a screenshot from a video tutorial on making your own prosthetic parts from 2-liter soda bottles. The opaque white part is a mold made of plaster. It’s a representation of the wearer’s limb, and provides the hard, heat-resistant form necessary for this manufacturing technique. You can see the clear plastic soda bottle which fits over the form after the bottom was removed. A heat gun causes the plastic to shrink to the shape of the plaster model.

Once formed, the threaded neck is split down the middle with a band saw. This will receive a piece of 1/2″ PVC pipe to be held in place by the neck and a pipe clamp. It’s possible to stop there, but a second video details an additional bottle used to make the device more rigid. See both videos after the break.

This manufacturing process is aimed at parts of the world that don’t have access to advanced prosthetics. We think it’s a wonderful demonstration of what can be done to improve the lives of amputees. We also think it’s a technique that can be used in other projects… we just haven’t figured out what those are as of yet.

It’s amazing how versatile this plastic waste can be if you put your mind to it.

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