3D Printed Prosthetic Hand Helps Out For About $150


We know that there are already 3D printed hips and knees in use in the medical field, but it takes a story like this one to really bring home the idea of how this technology changes lives. 5-year-old [Liam] is missing parts of his right hand, and this open-source prosthetic hand has given him a jolt of increased function. The video clip after the break shows him on the third day with the device. He’s practicing picking up coins from a stack using the hand. Just $150 in parts, combined with the hard work and good nature of the developers, made this possible.

The design is available on Thingiverse. In addition to the 3D printed parts the prosthesis uses off-the-shelf hardware store items like bungee cord and fasteners. The tips of each finger and the thumb are given some flex and grip by covering each with a rubber thimble.

We love seeing this life-changing technology wielded by basement and garage hackers. Another great example is this scratch-built leg from last May.

[Thanks Chris via Popular Science]

26 thoughts on “3D Printed Prosthetic Hand Helps Out For About $150

  1. Absolutely Brilliant!!!! What a pleasure to see such a benevolent “hack”. There should be a Nobel prize for this! Imagine the benefit to low-cost limb prosthetics all over the world. With 3D printers in the public sector in no short supply, it won’t be long before one could accomodate growth by “printing” the required re-sized parts.

  2. That’s only day 3 too. Great project, the kid is definitely getting to grips (sorry) with using the hand. I really liked the bit where he motions for the cameraman to follow him, 3 days and he’s got that one down.

  3. I am going to make some of you angry, but this really reflects the attitude of the parents. The kid could do anything he wanted to with one hand.

    Why would I say such a harsh thing? I was born without a hand and my parents did the right thing – they ignored it. I can do anything I want – I am an engineer, and build houses for a hobby. My father never met a child labor law he paid attention to. I played high school football (ended up on the line; the backfield “hand-off” really confused me). I rock-climbed, snow and water ski, hike, martial arts, etc.

    I am handicapped – I broke my left knee and cannot run anymore. I don’t really care. (Although crutches with one hand was “interesting”.

    When I see a story like this, I really feel bad for the kid. He is going to grow up handicapped, not because he doesn’t have a hand, but because *he has parents who pity him*. Sad.

    I also expect to get some negative reaction. Why? Do you fear only having one hand? What could you not do with one hand that you can do now? In other words, how does one hand “handicap” you?

    The only things I have a problem with are the things thoughtlessly designed by folks with two hands. I have not sat in one, but I understand the new Tesla requires two hands. This is odd, because I have driven a variety of cars and trucks, both automatic and stick. Helicopters and planes require two hands to fly, but again that is primarily because of the designers, esp with good automation.

    So this kid is going to become dependent on something that can break – then where is he? I know of people with one hand that *cannot* leave their home if their “hand” breaks, and must have a home visit to fix it. What a sad way to live.

    My solution? I have a chop saw and can generate plenty of one-handed people :^) My consulting fees after are half-off; a five-finger discount – a steal, as it were. (hehe).

    1. Bandit, I was born with two hands but if I consider somehow increasing my ability or even convenience with a third hand if one were available and socially acceptable, I might take the opportunity. Perhaps this kid is a little more like me than a misunderstood, wronged version of you.

    2. I agree. Nothing sickens me more than people trying to improve the functionality of a child. I was born with no eyes, and I hate that the general world is easier for people who can see. We should gouge everyone’s eyes out.

      Or, you know, you could be happy for the kid. You want to be handicapped? Fine. But keep the self-righteousness to yourself. If the kid ends up hating the hand, he can just take it off. Think you can do anything you want with one hand? That’s incredible, because everyone I know with two still has more they wish they could do. Let’s see you become a world-class speedcuber. A competitive lockpicker. A juggler. Hell, let’s see you unlock a door without setting a suitcase down on the wet ground. Or, here’s the big one, be happy for a kid who is happy.

      1. I knew my comment would bring out responses.

        @Willis: I am not misunderstood or wronged – I am really happy with the way I am. I am happy with the choices my parents made. It also gives me a great excuse for off-handed puns. I am often stricken how the folks around me forget I don’t have the hand.

        It also gave me a great way to do things that my father would otherwise not wanted me to do, like rock climbing. How could he say no?

        Wow – this really is the first time I have heard most people with two hands usually want more. I just thought is was an off-handed occasional joke. Where do you put all of those hands when you sleep on your side?

        @Alex: You miss the point: I am *not* handicapped. I have had a hook, and I *was* handicapped. Stinking thing kept getting in my way. I have used the process of making one to make other things. Bigg hawnkin vacu-formers – yumm!!

        My basic point is: he is “handicapped” because his parents do not seem to be able to deal with the way he is. If he becomes … hooked .. on a contraption, what happens when it breaks? Will he be able to function without it? I am sad his parents are not doing him any favors.

        I just ran into a kid with two claws – two “fingers” (surgery) on one arm about 6 inches long, and three (surgery – one forming an opposing thumb). Great attitude. Father had a great attitude, and did things to help his son learn how to live and thrive.

        BTW – the recent world handwriting winner does not have hands. A 6..7 year old girl. Cute as a button. It was a blind competition; the judges were blown away.

        I’m not asking for the world to have one hand. Shucks – are you so blind you cannot tell an obvious joke? A chance for an off-handed pun? (well, if you were born blind, maybe you are… :^) (that means it’s a *joke*). I am asking design engineers (I is [sic] one, too), that they think more about their user base. (All of the stuff I design can be used with one hand. Funny thing.)

        Having one hand is having a hobby. I just get to solve more daily problems than you. I use a backpack, because a suitcase takes up a hand. I can juggle, though not well (because of lack of practice – plenty of jugglers do it one-handed). I can build a device that speed-cubes. How many houses have you built? I’m over 20 that I have been a serious part of building. I have just started lockpicking – I need to build my own tools, but we are toolmakers. I just did a robot line-follower for fun.

        @Alex: Could you handle getting a hand cut off? Some can, some cannot. I would be curious if you could. You seem to have a fair amount of fear about the concept.

        BTW – my favorite drummer is the Thunder God. What an attitude! And for this sort of thing, attitude is all.

        1. I’m not afraid to get a hand cut off. But I’m also not lining up for it, like it’s some kind of blessing. You’re saying he’s handicapped because he”needs” this device, then bragging that you can build machines to do all kinds of stuff regular people just do. You ask where he would be if his hand broke. Where would you be if your lockpicking tools broken? Or your car? Or your spine? Handicapped is defined as “having a condition that markedly restricts one’s ability to function physically, mentally, or socially”. I’d say being unable to do things 99% of people can do without special tools is a marked physical restriction. And being unable to be happy for a child is a marked social restriction. So, you kind of are handicapped. How can you applaud painful, expensive, dangerous surgery and not relatively simple, easy to use prosthetics?

          1. Y’all are missing my main point. It’s not having the tool, it;s the kids PARENTS attitude that he “needs” two hands. Every time I hear a kid “wanting to be normal” I hear the parents not being able to deal with it. By the time I was 5 I knew why I was the way I am. I was willing to try the hook, but my parents NEVER forced it on me or demanded I wear it. It was too much of a pain. My father was an engineer (I am second generation), and we made some tools, like a replacement to the hook to hold a bow. BUT – it was a TOOL, not something I needed to live. My parents had the right attitude.

            I have nothing against tools – we all use them. It is the becoming so dependent on unnecessary ones you cannot live your life without them – *then* you are handicapped.

            This all revolves around ATTITUDE. Yes, there are folks who require some basic tools for their daily lives, but they are NOT handicapped, because of their ATTITUDE. To become dependent on an UNNEEDED tool is being handicapped.

            Shucks – mobility is far more important than dexterity – been there too. Got nothing about needing an artificial leg if you don’t have two biological ones.

            Check this guy out – http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/ – we are talking his sole limb is a flipper for a foot! BUT – he has ATTITUDE. My gosh, I would have a bit of trouble! But – I suspect he has *way* more “what do you call a guy without arms and legs in a ….” jokes than I do.

            This is not a contradiction, The key here is what is the MINIMAL tools with the minimal level of tech required.

            We all need tools for specific tasks. A hammer is the best way to drive a nail (much better than a rock). A car is much better than foot for going long distance – for most cases. A soldering iron for electronics. I have some tools y’all don’t need, but my LIFE does not depend on them; I can function well on a minimal set of tools. I just do some things a bit differently.

            @TJ: Things I can do with one hand you cannot:

            1. Clap with one hand
            2. not have to worry about where to put my hand when I sleep on that side
            3. Not hit my hammer with a thumb.
            4. Hold more with one hand than you (practice, practice, practice)
            5. start and hammer a nail with one hand
            6. get away with bad off-handed jokes.

            Yes, these are trivial and mainly jokes in bad taste. (I have more that I cannot put on a public forum … hehe.) But you miss the point: I can do any non-trival thing you can, I just do it differently some of the time. Living in a two-handed world is not a handicap, it’s just a hobby.

            And I am not alone – there really is nothing different about me vs other people missing limbs. If any of y’all “join the club”, it will all depend on your attitude. And remember – y’all can join at any time, not that I am wishing it on y’all. 50% of all leg amputations in the USA is motorcycle accidents. Car accidents happen all the time. Plenty of chances in the world.

            I just hate to see parents pity their children. I am willing to bet the parents are feeling a lot of guilt, too.

        2. Hey Bandit sounds like your a really talented hacker, you built a line following robot? Did you use a soldering iron? You build houses, those hammers and saws are really helpful, aren’t they and how good are you at picking locks without picks? Think of little Liams prosthetic as a tool, and if he doesn’t like it he can take it off, I mean it’s not welded on (at least I hope it isn’t!) Stop being so negative man. Oh and since you didn’t like your claw why not hack something better, like a lockpick kit hand with tension bar, if your a smoker a lighter hand (fun at parties!) or how about a portable soldering iron hand, I bet a lot of people on here would like that!

    3. “What could you not do with one hand that you can do now? In other words, how does one hand “handicap” you?”

      I think you just answered your own question:

      “The only things I have a problem with are the things thoughtlessly designed by folks with two hands. I have not sat in one, but I understand the new Tesla requires two hands. This is odd, because I have driven a variety of cars and trucks, both automatic and stick. Helicopters and planes require two hands to fly, but again that is primarily because of the designers, esp with good automation.”

      You’re in a world designed for people with two hands. Having one is a handicap.

      I also want to flip this question back at you: Is there anything you can do with one hand that people can’t do with two?

      1. Can you knit? I have two hands and despite my mom trying since I was a kid the use of needles confounded me. My son who has one finger can knit. Other than get 500 questions where every we go: seriously we have gone to the same grocery store every Friday for 8 years, and never once have we left without another child OR an adult, making some sort of comment or question about his missing arm, followed by ‘omg, and look at that and it only has one finger!’ Amazing how rude people are to physically disabled in todays times. Worst comments: a lady walked up to me in Walmart and said ‘why didn’t you have an abortion?’..(she then went on to tell me her daughter was born with a club foot and despite her family wanting her to have an abortion she didn’t, and ‘isn’t that great’)….worst from a child of about 10 at a cub scout meeting: ‘when he was born didn’t you just want to throw him in the trash?’

  4. In regards to bandit’s comments, they are something the abled bodied community may no be able to understand. Alex’s comment goes to show that those within the disability community can’t fully understand the experiences of others within the community. I don’t think it’s not that bandit desires Liam to remain handicapped, but it’s the abled bodied community, and some within the disabled community defining what’s handicapped. I took bandit’s comments as bandit to say Liam is handicapped because society is forcing it’s prejudices on those with disabilities, and When given the opportunity, and suggestions by those who experience or worked with those who experienced the same difficulties Liam may have been able to do well without a prosthesis. I acquired disabilities as an adult. I learned to use “tools” to get on with life, I’m sure bandit does as well, long with Alex. That’s why when I seen Liam working with the coins my first thought was; I hope those in his life understood he couldn’t do that if he couldn’t see what he was trying to do, because others would have unreasonable expectations of what Liam could do with the prosthesis. The ability to see is tool that’s used along with the tool of the prosthesis. Alex suggesting that bandit doesn’t want Liam to be a happy was a bit of low blow. Most likely Liam was happy prior to receiving the prosthesis, but like most who receive a new tool was excited what it enabled him to do, but it can’t eliminate him needing to make the adjustments he will continue to have to make. None of this to say hackers have nothing to contribute, but they should float an idea over a broad spectrum of those of those who are disabled or are have experience with working with the disabled.

    1. Thank you for being far more articulate than I managed to be. Welcome to the club. You obviously have the right attitude. I am working with someone whose brother had a hand chopped off and became a veg. It was only thru some really tough therapy the brother was able to start “adjusting”, but he’s still pretty messed up.

      @Alex: Yes, I want the kid to be happy and live a full life. Don’t be silly. I just want his parents to not pity their child. I was fully prepared (as one could be) on the off-chance my son had some problem. He is not normal – he is a geek/nerd/hacker. I could not be prouder of him. He just happens to have all 4 limbs, but if something happens, he will adjust just fine.

      1. As a parent who adopted a child with multiple limb differences I at first imagined all I needed to do was get him some prosthetics and he’d ‘see’ how great and helpful they were (haha). He does not use any upper arm prothestics. I had to curb my feelings because they really impede him more than help. He had two prosthetics, expensive ones not typically given to children, myoelectric and the i-hand (because I could afford it, most can’t). I also tried a bunch of adaptors: like adaptor for holding tennis racket, doing push ups, riding bike. None of which he used more than 1-3 times. I kept thinking in that first year if only I got him ‘the best or right onne’ he’d see how useful they were. Now I still come and look at the new tech but know that my son is fine without it. If I had adopted him when he was an infant vs more independent 5 year old, I fear I would have forced him to use the prosthetic technology out there (not because I wanted him to look ‘normal’ or do things ‘normal’ (aka, not a cosmetic prosthetic), but because I became enamored of the technology. The technology sounds cool vs what my son actually needs/wants. I know congenital amputees who have gotten I-hands when they were adults and loved them. Most kids I know use upper arm prosthetics just for ‘special’ activities like holding rackets, pushups, playing instruments and such. The 4 veterans I know who have lost limbs all wear their upper and lower prosthetics daily and find them useful. Only know one adult who became amputee in his late twenties due to farm accident and he does not use prosthetic either. In the end I guess parents will need to let kids decide: but unless they are ‘made’ to wear one young I’m not sure how many kids would ‘choose’ to wear one later since they’d already be used to doing everything without one. Sorry I rambled on. hope I make sense.

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