3D Printed Prosthetic Hand


3D printing – with the promise of low-scale manufacturing and custom parts – is ideal for the prosthetic industry, but so far prosthetic hands have been a very, very hard nut to crack. [Joel] has been working on the Open Hands Project, a project that aims to make robotic prosthetics accessible to makers, researchers, and amputees alike.

Even though the mechanisms inside the hand are fairly simple – DC gear motors retracting steel cable ‘tendons’ – [Joel] was able to pack all this equipment into a very small volume that isn’t much bigger than real, meat-based hands. To actuate the mechanical muscles in the hand, the user simply flexes a few muscles in their forearm. These electrical signals are picked up by a suite of custom electronics and tell the Open Hand what to do

In [Joel]’s Indiegogo video, he goes over what makes his robohands work with a little help from [Liam Corbett], hand amputee. Aesthetically, the Open Hand is a big improvement over [Liam]’s two-pronged hook, and with the dexterity demonstrated in the video, possibly a lot more capable.


17 thoughts on “3D Printed Prosthetic Hand

    1. As they say RTFA
      “After all of the designing and testing has been complete, the rewards will be sent and all of the designs and code will be uploaded to the internet for anyone to use and build on.”

      No doubt everyone has an opinion as to how open source should work, but the opinion of the creator that will be releasing the initial work is the one that matter the most Personally I can’t blame them for project that will have a mission critical component as this not releasing until they have is as polished a they believe they can get it. I have to idea how important what it is that National Instruments has donated or if less expensive alternatives exist or not; that alone could restrict the numbers of others that could readily work on the project.

  1. At the risk of pissing people off, there is a real danger in making a prosthetic hand into a crutch instead of a tool. I have one hand, and do what I want, I build houses for a hobby. I build things at my local hackerspace.

    The issue here is one that is well known to folks who make prosthetics. They have clients that *cannot* leave their home if their hand breaks. This is not a functional reason – they could get to the shop – they have such a fear of being in public while “not normal”. I went to high school with such a kid.

    I fully understand the whole “dexterity vs mobility” issue – I broke my knee once. Had full drop-foot for a year until the nerve started to recover. Interesting experience with a fair pain-in-the-ass factor.

    The issue really is: what can you *not* do with one hand that you can with two? If you have the right attitude, the answer is it doesn’t matter. You just have a new hobby that your inner maker gets to start playing with.

    Another danger is a parent wanting their one-handed child to “be normal”. What is really happening is the parent pities the child. My folks were wise on that – they ignored it and did not give me slack.

    Now – a tele-operated hand has a lot of potential uses. Waldo would *love* them (not the waldo in the stupid hat – the original.) Or, think Helen Keller hand spelling. A cheap one with tactile feedback could do bomb defusing.

        1. I think Freud had a name for that …. :^)

          Another test for crutch vs tool: what happens it when it breaks? How do you fix it? What tools do you need? Can you fix it with only one hand? Is your life in danger?

          But – gotta hand it to you – you didn’t respond in fear, which is a common reaction when I bring this up.

          My reaction to the guy with springs for legs that was not allowed to qualify for the Olympics because they “gave him an unfair advantage” was .. the serious athlete should cut off their own legs so they can use this advantage.

          1. ““gave him an unfair advantage” was .. the serious athlete should cut off their own legs so they can use this advantage.”

            Happiest I have ever been at a HAD comment.

            I have a young friend that is following several DIY hand projects, as he has a very expensive cable operated hand that sits on a coat rack useless to him. He uses the nub thats left of his hand to his best and constantly improving ability. He swears he wont use another pros hand until he is able to build, repair, and maintain one himself.

            When I told him your comment he replied “he should have simulcast himself running solo online during the olympics….and everytime he won, Shamed the olympics for not allowing him, and challenge the official winner to a one on one duel for the medal. Anyone who declines is two balls short of a man short two legs.”

          2. Shocked and Annoyed: I could not reply directly to your comment (no button; I guess it was too deep in the stack).

            Love your friend’s comment “.. two balls short…” snicker. I also like his attitude, because that’s what it boils down to: attitude. Politics aside, I *love* this poster: http://stories-etc.com/regrets.htm – my name is bandit because I am the “one-armed bandit”. I was also happy to see Miss Iowa won Miss America – look her up.

            The guy ended up taking the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled the US team had to allow him in the trials. He failed to qualify, but it was on merit, not some idiot’s fear. Someday…

            I would like to talk to your young friend. Have him look up quelab.net and leave a google voicemail. I will get it.

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