Missing Finger Gets A Simple Yet Fancy Replacement

A cinematic shot of the resulting prosthetic finger attached to the glove

The possibility of a table saw accident is low, but never zero — and [Nerdforge] has lost a finger to this ever-useful but dangerous contraption. For a right-handed person, losing the left hand pinky might not sound like much, but the incident involved some nerve damage as well, making inaccessible a range of everyday motions we take for granted. For instance, holding a smartphone or a pile of small objects without dropping them. As a hacker, [Nerdforge] decided to investigate just how much she could do about it.

On Thingiverse, she’s hit a jackpot: a parametric prosthetic finger project by [Nicholas Brookins], and in no time, printed the first version in resin. The mechanics of the project are impressive in their simplicity — when you close your hand, the finger closes too. Meant to be as simple as possible, this project only requires a wrist mount and some fishing line. From there, what could she improve upon? Aside from some test fits, the new finger could use a better mounting system, it could stand looking better, and of course, it could use some lights.

For a start, [Nerdforge] redesigned the mount so that the finger would instead fasten onto a newly-fingerless glove, with a few plastic parts attached into that. Those plastic parts turned out to be a perfect spot for a CR2032 battery holder and a microswitch, wired up to a piece of LED filament inserted into the tip of the finger. As for the looks, some metal-finish paint was found to work wonders – moving the glove’s exterior from the “printed project” territory into the “futuristic movie prop” area.

The finger turned out to be a resounding success, restoring the ability to hold small objects in ways that the accident made cumbersome. It doesn’t provide much in terms of mechanical strength, but it wasn’t meant to do that. Now, [Nerdforge] has hacked back some of her hand’s features, and we have yet another success story for all the finger-deficient hackers among us. Hacker-built prosthetics have been a staple of Hackaday, with the OpenBionics project in particular being a highlight of 2015 Hackaday Prize — an endearing demonstration of hackers’ resilience.

27 thoughts on “Missing Finger Gets A Simple Yet Fancy Replacement

      1. Your definition of click bait seems to be different from mine. For me if the title, thumbnail, or whatever is actually the content of the linked article, image, or video it’s not click bait. That’s just a description. If the description is compelling enough for people to want to see the content… well… good. Hopefully the content is also presented well.

        1. Indeed. To me this thumbnail and title very accurately gets across the point and content of the video.

          And no AI could actually filter out the good from the bad content reliably – as the good content creators pretty much HAVE to jump on the bandwagon that the curating AI’s use to promote videos and the tricks that grab folks attention at a glance to get the views that let them do whatever they do – if the AI changes the goal posts the creators will react to the new goalposts. Almost no content creator can put the academic paper style title and very dry thumbnail in their video and actually get a view at all!

    1. I’ll raise you not one, but three HAD articles about Ian’s handywork.

      I was planning to make the same point as you, but I decided to first make sure that I could include any articles from HAD in my comment haha




  1. Very impressive, surely the ultimate make/hack is to make you’re own body parts! Though I’m sure [Nerdforge] would prefer not to have this necessity.

    Missed opportunity though to have an eye on the end of your finger!

  2. If it were my finger I would have put either a thumb drive with USB-C connector inside the finger with the connector hidden under a flip up fingernail, or a uSD card holder that would fit in that place.

    1. Attached storage sounds exhausting to hold in place while data copies. The holder sounds more practical while keeping the futuristic look.

      How about a USB(+NFC?) smart card for authentication?

    2. In an episode of Star Trek TNG there is a brief moment where Lore, Data’s evil twin, flips up his finger nail to hit a button to beam off somewhere. It’s really amazing to me how that brief moment freaks people out because of seeing a fingernail flip up in a way it should not. I’ve had this happen once in a car door accident as a kid and it gets my attention when I see this episode too. Anyway, doing something with the fingernail where it flips up would be funny, maby it could eject a microSD card or something. Or maby a pressure-activated toggle that raises the nail to expose a light (unlikely as that’s a lot of mechanism to pack into a tiny space). Anything that manipulates the fingernail in an unnatural way would probably help to freak people out.

  3. From a kitchen accident, and two surgeries, I have a contracture in my right hand, and a pinky without a working pulley system. Her injury is worse than mine, but I think I get where she is coming from.

    1. Is the contracture in your hand separate from your pulleyless pinky?
      My brother, in a game of rugby, snapped the tendon that pulls the tip of one of his middle fingers (left I think) back. They managed to re-attach it but that finger still doesn’t work right for him 15 or 20 or so years later.

      1. Yes, the contracture is on the same hand as the problem pinky. I had a free-tendon graft that didn’t work right. Even as slight as my hand problem is, it takes about 20 minutes a day to work to keep my hand working.

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