Tag Archives: 3D-printed hand

This 3D-printed prosthetic hand features a built-in space game


This Maker duo’s 3D-printed prosthetic hand is out of this world! 


Perhaps one of, if not, most amazing things to recently come from the 3D printing world has been DIY prosthetics. These artificial limbs have grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. One group helping lead the way has been e-NABLE, a global network of volunteers who are using their 3D printers to create prosthetic hands for those in need. Given the initiative’s open source nature, prostheses can now be made for a fraction of the cost of their commercial counterparts.

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One of the more popular e-NABLE models has been what’s called the “Cyborg Beast.” Using this as the base for their project, Maker duo Debbie and Danny Leung decided to develop an intergalactic-looking version of their own that boasts some additional functionality. Though it may work like other 3D-printed limbs, thanks to some modifications, an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) and a few other electronics, the Cosmogony brings an entertainment console right to the palm of a user’s hand.

The Cosmogony hand has two modes: display mode and play mode. In display mode, three rainbow diffused LED lights on the palm and four RGB LED lights in the fingertips repeatedly change colors. There’s also an Adafruit 8×8 dot matrix display connected to an accelerometer, which alters images as the wearer moves their hand. Aside from that, the prosthetic can be converted into a virtual video game that employs its embedded accelerometer.

In order to play “Expand Your Universe,” a user simply moves his or her hand in the direction that they’d like the characters to go. For this game, the main characters are actually four planets moving together at the center. As the wearer advances to each stage, an asteroid from a random direction comes closer. To avoid a collision, the user must try move their hand accordingly to dodge the asteroid in an X or Y direction sensed by the accelerometer.

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“The blue lights blink in the fingertips, a smiley face appears, and they spread farther apart. To proceed to the next stage a player must successfully dodge asteroids sweeping across from random directions. If a player fails to dodge an asteroid, the red lights blink in the fingertips, a sad face appears, and the player has to start over at that last stage,” its creators explain.

The hand itself is comprised of flexible NinjaFlex filament, while springs were used for the finger joints. Six strings of fiber optic lights make up spiral shaped “galaxy” on the palm, which has a compartment for the LED dot matrix on top. Housed inside the gauntlet of the hand lies the Arduino, a 9V battery and a dual-axis accelerometer.

Pretty amazing, right? Watch it in action below!

[h/t 3DPrint.com]

Rewind: 2014 was the year of the 3D-printed prosthetic

Undoubtedly, 2014 has emerged as quite the watershed year for 3D-printed prosthetics. Whereas traditional transfemoral and transhumeral prostheses can set a patient back anywhere between $10,000 to $15,000 every three to four years due to wear and tear, 3D printing is proving to be a much more efficient, cost-effective alternative. Thanks to the rise of [Atmel based] 3D printers, a lifetime of prosthetics will soon cost much less than just a single commercially-made artificial limb.

In the near future, increased accessibility to 3D printers, as well as organizations like e-NABLE and Not Impossible Labs, will provide those in need with the ability to create custom, on-demand prosthetics.

With just weeks left before 2015, we’ve decided to highlight some of our favorite 3D-printed prosthetic projects that have made a difference over the last 12 months…

Youbionic will usher in a new era of prosthetics

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Developed by Italian designer Federico Ciccarese, the white plastic hand is equipped with multi-colored wires attached to an electronic switchboard, powered by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4). Going one step further than the average prosthetic, the hand works through a series of sensors and actuator motors, controlled by the Arduino board. “I tried to make it as pleasing to the eye as possible while also focusing on making its movements as natural as possible,” Ciccarese explains.

This Wolverine hand is clawsome

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e-NABLE volunteer Aaron Brown recently gained the attention of mainstream media after he sought out to add a new dimension to prosthetic hands, which at the time, had not been done before. In fact, he wanted to create custom superhero hands, starting with the world’s first 3D-printed prosthetic Wolverine claw. So, Brown decided to 3D print a cyborg beat prosthetic hand, using traditional “Michigan blue and yellow colors” (after all, it was on display at the Grand Rapids Maker Faire). He then attached short, plastic claws to Velcro to the hand. [h/t e-NABLE]

Iron Man to the rescue

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Pat Starace recently put together a beaming, blinking and beautiful version of Tony Starks’s armor using an Arduino, some LEDs and Bluetooth. The Maker elected to develop his own hand abiding by several principles — it had to look and perform awesome, and it had to hide all the strings (typically visible in other low-cost 3D-printed prosthetic hands), so nothing distracted from its magic. “How can we help a child that faces everyday challenges with a disability? My answer is to give them the most awesome prosthetic hand, and raise their self esteem to Super Hero Levels,” Starace adds.

Students create a robotic prosthetic arm

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Students at Washington University in St. Louis recently created a robotic prosthetic arm for 13-year-old Sydney Kendall. The total cost? $200, a mer of the price of standard prosthetics. The prosthesis is battery-powered and controlled with an accelerometer; while the thumb moves with a slightly different trigger – compared with finger motion.

3D printing gives man a $100 bionic hand

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With the help of a $100 3D-printed design, do-it-yourselfer Howard Kamarata has regained some of the ability to use his hands after a devastating accident. While working on an outdoor project one October night, a slip of a miter saw took off four fingers above Kamarata’s knuckles. Industrial designer Casey Barrett got wind of the incident and offered to assist using a 3D printer, which he used to create the missing pieces for each finger. He rounded out the design by piecing together a glove, fishing wire, pins and screws purchased at a DIY shop.

$50 3D-printed hand trumps $42,000 prosthesis

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53-year old Jose Delgado, Jr. was born without most of his left hand. With the help of insurance, Delgado managed to obtain a number of different prosthetic devices over the years, including a myoelectric device that uses the muscle signals in his forearm to trigger the closing or opening of the fingers. The total cost? $42,000, of which Jose paid about half out of pocket. Unsurprisingly, Delgado eventually decided to seek a cheaper option and so approached Jeremy Simon of 3DUniverse to inquire about obtaining a simple 3D-printed prothesis. Simon recommended the Cyborg Beast – even though he was initially somewhat skeptical about the basic 3D-printed prothesis. In short, the simple, mechanical design has provided Delgado with more day-to-day functionality than his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis.

Robohands aiding in conflict zones

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Daniel Omar, who lives in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, lost both his arms at just 14-years-old when a government plane dropped a bomb near his village during the country’s protracted civil war. Omar – who is now 16 – only recently picked up a fork to feed himself for the first time in two years using a prosthetic arm with parts make on an [Atmel based] MakerBot Replicator 2. The arm was designed by Mick Ebeling, the CEO of Not Impossible Labs.

Student creates 3D-printed prosthetic arm for a classmate

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Evan Kuester, a digital fabrication graduate student, didn’t feel completely fulfilled by his coursework. He worked through his studies, but wasn’t necessarily making the impact that he had hoped. After noticing a female student on campus without a hand, he decided to put his education to good use. Kuester designed the arm using Rhino with a plug-in called Grashopper. Upon taking photos of his fellow classmate’s arm and a few measurements, he began modeling something that would be both functional yet aesthetically pleasing. The final prosthetic was printed in ABS as a single piece and did require a support structure for that intricate frame work. Once the support structure was dissolved, it was ready to be worn. [h/t MAKE]

3D printing helps 71-year-old man avoid amputation

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A staff of Australian doctors carried out the world’s first procedure of printing a new heel bone. Pioneered by Professor Peter Choong at Melbourne-based Saint Vincent’s Hospital, the breakthrough has allowed 71-year-old Len Chandler to avoid amputation after being diagnosed with cartilage cancer in the foot. Typically speaking, those suffering from this disease lose the leg below the knee due to possible fracture. In order to create an exact replica of the patient’s right heel bone, the team mirrored a CT scan of Chandler’s tumor-free left heel bone which had the exact dimensions. The bone was then constructed out of titanium using a 3D printer.

3D printing helps build upper jaw prosthetic for cancer patient

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After a 41-year-old Bangalore man was diagnosed with cancer of the palate, surgeons proceeded to remove his upper jaw, which unfortunately left sections of his nose and mouth exposed. Shortly thereafter, the patient sought a prosthesis but dentists were hesitant in treating him, as taking an impression and producing a mold proved problematic given his inability to open his mouth. It was then that Osteo3D got involved. Using a CT scan to create a 3D reconstruction of the patient’s face, Osteo3D printed a replica of the patient’s mouth, complete with lower and upper jaw, the defect and his teeth. [h/t Gizmag]

6-year-old receives a hand from a group of college students

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The family of a 6-year-old boy who was born without an arm had been struggling to find a way to afford a prosthetic limb for the child — until a group of University of Central Florida students built one for a fraction of the price with a 3D printer. Alex Pring was given his new prosthetic arm — which cost just $350 to build — after the UCF team led by Albert Manero spent two months completing a prototype and publishing its blueprints online. [h/t New York Daily News]

2-year-old given 3D-printed prosthetic

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A two-year-old named Caedon Olsen recently received the gift of a new prosthetic hand, thanks to a team of computer science students at Brenham High School in Texas. Olsen was born with an underdeveloped right hand due to a disorder called Ambiotic Band Syndrome, which left the infant without fingers on his right hand and a right palm smaller than his left. His mom, Jeanette Olsenm, approached the high school and with their $1,500 3D printer, the students took on the challenge of creating a prosthetic for the boy. [h/t Global News]

Students lend a helping hand to a former teacher

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Former students of fourth grade teacher Patti Anderson, who had lost one of her hands in an accident involving a professional laundry machine, had written a letter to doctors at Johns Hopkins in hopes of getting her a 3D-printed prophetic hand. And well, it worked! [h/t 3DPrint.com]

3D printing gives Quack-Quack a second lease at life

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A duck was basking in the sun at National Taiwan University, when a dog randomly attacked the unsuspecting bird. A local animal hospital performed immediate surgery to repair the fowl; yet coming out of the procedure they determined that it would not be able to put any weight on its leg. In true Maker fashion, the ingenious collaboration of Taipei Hackerspace and design firm Lung X Lung turned to 3D printing to help out the duck.

Dad creates 3D-printed fingers for his son

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12-year-old Leon McCarthy was born without fingers on his left hand, but thanks to his determined dad, a generous inventor and a 3D printer, he now has a brand new set of digits. [h/t Christian Science Monitor]

TurboRoo gets a new set of wheels

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What happens when you take an adorable dog, 3D printing and the kindness of strangers throughout the Maker community? TurboRoo is a chihuahua that was born with a birth defects that caused his two front legs never to grow. While a baby, TurboRoo’s owners created a makeshift set of wheels from an assortment of children’s toys together. Knowing that their pet required a permanent solution, they began seeking $600 in funds online to get this friendly canine into a wheelchair. Maker Mark Deadrick came across TurboRoo’s touching story online. Given the distance between the two (Deadrick lives in San Diego while TurboRoo in Indianapolis), the President of 3dyn decided to print a wheelchair merely based on online photos using a MakerBot Replicator 2.


With the advent of 3D printing, it’s exciting to see how hospitals, labs and Makers are coming together to truly ‘make’ a difference in the lives of those in need. As another year comes to a close, we can only imagine what the future holds for the next-gen technology that continues to revolutionize the medical field — for the better.

3D printing helping kids overcome disabilities

A little boy in Hawaii born without fingers got a robotic hand thanks to 3D printing. According to KHON 2 News, three-year-old Rayden Kahae is a happy and loving child, but the boy they call “Bubba” has always been different from the rest of the neighborhood kids in Wailuku.

“Bubba” was born with the rare condition amniotic band syndrome (ABS), which causes fiber-like bands to form in the amniotic sac that can wrap around parts of the baby’s body, reducing blood supply and restricting normal growth.

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As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, 3D printers (a majority of which are powered by AVR XMEGAmegaAVR and SAM3X8E MCUs) are inching closer and closer to mainstream — particularly throughout the medical world. In recent months, researchers have experienced a number of bioprinting marvels, from designing a 3D-printed splint that saved the life of an infant born with severe tracheobronchomalacia to surgically implanting a 3D-printed vertebrae into a 12-year-old cancer patient.

Bubba always knew he was different, but continued to flourish despite his disability, according to his grandmother, Rulan Waikiki. “He knew from earlier on when he could notice that his sister had two hands and he didn’t — that he always said he doesn’t like that hand he wanted one like [his sister],” the boy’s grandmother added.

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Commercially made prosthetics used to cost up to $40,000, but with recent advancements in 3D printing technology, more affordable options have been made available to patients like Bubba. Earlier this year, Waikiki happened upon a website for the nonprofit group, E-Nable, which operates off donations and volunteers to provide 3D-printed prosthetics for patients at no cost. Last week, Bubba was selected as one of those patients.

“He wanted an ‘Ironman hand,’” Waikiki said. “As soon as he put it on and was able to close the hand, his face just lit up.”

Bubba, who will turn four in November, will be refitted for similar prosthetics as he grows.

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This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, a youngster was given a second lease on life thanks to 3D printing. Last year, MakerBot printed a prosthetic device for a two-year-old girl in Huntsville, Alabama who born without four fingers on her left hand; while even more recently, Aaron Brown, a volunteer at E-nabling The Future, took things one step further by designing a set of fake Wolverine claws to make kids wearing prosthetics feel like superheroes.

“It was very early on this year, while studying 3D printing that I saw what the e-NABLE group was doing. I knew instantly and told my wife that I couldn’t own a 3D printer, let alone make plans to own many more and not do my part to help the cause. That’s when I built my first trial hand. A little snap together Robohand. Since then, I have just finished my 5th e-NABLE hand,the Wolverine Edition, and I am planning to make many more,” Brown writes.

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The idea was brought to life for the Grand Rapids Maker Faire. Brown had modified e-NABLE’s free prosthetic hand plans, devising an edition with Wolverine-inspired “claws” he thought would appeal especially to children.

“The Comic loving nerd inside of me (along with some Facebook friends) said there is no way I can make a Wolverine hand without CLAWS…so I modeled some in Sketchup the morning before the makerfaire, printed ‘em, spray painted ‘em silver and velcro’d ‘em on there. Turned out pretty darn cool!”

As you can imagine, the superhero-themed prosthetic was a hit. Simply because one is missing a hand doesn’t mean you can’t be a superhero. The incredible response has inspired the Maker to consider and begin brainstorming other hero-themed prosthetics, including Batman, Iron Man and even Captain America.

This is surely another prime example of how the Maker Movement continues to make its mark, and ultimately, ‘make’ a difference.

3D printing gives man a $100 bionic hand

As previously chronicled here on Bits & Pieces, today’s next-gen technologies continue to improve and sometimes even save the lives of accident victims. This story was yet another triumph for the Maker Movement making a difference. With the help of a $100 3D-printed design, one do-it-yourselfer has regained some of the ability to use his hands after an accident he suffered on the job.

Kamarata was a pipe fitter by trade, a home handyman by desire. One day last October, while working on an outdoor project, he had set up his miter saw. The piece he had was short, and he wanted to cut it into 2-inch sections; however, being right-handed, he guided the electric saw with that hand and held the wood in place with his left, near the cutting surface. Before he knew it, the saw caught the wood, throwing it toward Kamarata. His left hand slipped into the blade and just like that, four fingers just above the middle knuckles were gone.

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With his fingers unable to be reattached after the incident, he was devastated that he’d no longer be able to use his hands to work. He then ran into a designer friend, Casey Barrett. In one conversation between the two, Kamarata expressed his disappointment in the high pricing of many top-notch prosthetics, which could run upwards of $40,000.

Barrett studied Howard’s issue and recalled some information he had previously seen online about 3D-printed prosthetics. Combining his friend’s cause and his own interest in 3D printing, Barrett decided to look deeper into the subject. He found some plans online and proceeded to produce a series of finger replacements. Each finger has 3-hinged digits and can slightly flex. The duo then took a glove purchased from Home Depot and some braided fishing line to assemble the complete hand. In all, the contraption cost less than $100 and provided priceless benefits to Robert.

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“I was able to hold things again,” the handyman tells AZCentral.com. “I could pick up a water bottle.” While these may seem like trivial tasks, they are tremendous achievements for someone who thought they would never be able to utilize their hand again. After his success story, Robert has begun working with the RecFX Foundation to try and help others regain abilities through similar technology.

Researchers continue to explore the use of 3D printing for body parts, particularly those in which come in contact with the body but don’t enter the bloodstream — these include teeth, hearing aid shells, and prosthetic limbs.

$50 3D-printed hand trumps $42,000 prosthesis

53-year old Jose Delgado, Jr., was born without most of his left hand. With the help of insurance, Jose managed to obtain a number of different prosthetic devices over the years, including a myoelectric device that uses the muscle signals in his forearm to trigger the closing or opening of the fingers. The total cost? $42,000, of which Jose paid about half out of pocket.

Unsurprisingly, Delgado eventually decided to seek a cheaper option and so approached Jeremy Simon of 3DUniverse to inquire about obtaining a simple 3D-printed prothesis. Simon recommended the Cyborg Beast – even though he was initially somewhat skeptical about the basic 3D printed prothesis.

“Jose works in an environment that involves a lot of lifting and moving of boxes, so I was kind of expecting that the Cyborg Beast, which in this case is made of ABS plastic (same material as LEGO blocks), wouldn’t hold up for long. To my surprise, however, Jose says it’s been doing very well, and that he actually prefers it to his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis,” Simon wrote in a recent blog post.

“Jose provides a unique perspective, as he’s been using multiple types of prosthetic devices, including the myoelectric one, for years, so he’s very familiar with what can or can’t be done with them in terms of day-to-day functionality.”

In short, the simple, mechanical design provides Jose with more day-to-day functionality than his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis.

“Next, I’ll be printing another Cyborg Beast for Jose using a material called Bridge nylon, which has significantly enhanced strength properties, while remaining very lightweight,” Simon explained. “I’ll also be providing him with an alternate thumb mount that will enable a different kind of grip.”

According to Simon, the 3D printed prosthesis is a completely mechanical design, with 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.

“I’ve been saying that 3D printing is a transformational technology and this is a great example. It completely changes the possibilities and it makes those possibilities available to anyone, anywhere,” Simon added. “When you combine that kind of technology with the collaborative power of the Internet, the inherent generosity of human beings and a global open source community, truly remarkable things start to unfold.”