Tag Archives: 3D-Printed Prosthetic

Student makes a 3D-printed, voice-controlled robotic arm

A 17-year-old Maker has created a voice-controlled robotic arm with the help of 3D printing and Arduino.

You know, the Maker Movement just keeps on amazing us. It goes to show that, with nothing more than some low-cost hardware, a 3D printer and a little ingenuity, an idea can go on to have a life-changing, lasting effect on the world. Take 17-year-old Nilay Mehta, for instance.


The Irvine, California-based high school student has developed an inexpensive, 3D-printed robotic arm programmed to mimic the movements of a human hand, such as pinching, grabbing or holding a utensil. Using voice commands through a small, two prong microphone attached to the limb, the hand carries out specific actions at the request of its wearer.

“You can say ‘spoon’ and the hand will make a shape that will be able to hold a spoon,” Mehta explains.

In terms of hardware, the award-winning project is comprised of an Arduino, a set of servo motors, sEMG electrodes, a Bluetooth module and an EasyVR shield.


“With the software side of the project, I split up the different components for EMG (for muscle control) and voice control. In order to maximize my efficiency, I split up the project into several smaller projects and combined each segment one by one. I first worked with the EMG side and determined that a conditional statement between three variables gave the most accurate results.” the Maker writes.

This project is only one of countless examples that demonstrate the pivotal role 3D printing continues to play in making prosthetics accessible to those in need — all at a fraction of the cost of its high-end counterparts. Compared to the $3,000 to $30,000 families used to have shell out for an artificial limb, resources originating from the Maker Movement have allowed Mehta to bring his idea to life for under $260.

“For kids who are growing, they have to change their prosthetics every six to eight months,” Mehta adds. By using inexpensive 3D-printed components, the robotic arm can be resized without having to dig deep into wallets. Looking ahead, the student hopes to revamp its design so that it would be more functional.

[h/t Daily Dot]

7-year-old amputee gets a 3D-printed prosthetic hand

California girl receives a high-tech, 3D-printed prosthetic hand — for $50.

When Faith Lennox was nine months old, she lost her left forearm. Now at age seven, she has received a custom ‘robohand’ through the powers of 3D printing.

The easy-to-use prosthetic weighs only one-pound and cost the Lennox family $50 — merely a fraction of the price of traditional, sensor-laden pieces. What’s more, when Faith outgrows the prosthetic, whether it’s six months or two years from now, a replacement can be made just as inexpensively and easily as the first.

After trying numerous prosthetics throughout the years, Faith found them to be too bulky, heavy, and worst of all, difficult to use. And while on the search for a better alternative, her parents came across volunteer group e-NABLE, who has helped kids and adults seeking artificial limbs to build them through 3D printing. Currently, the non-profit organizations says that they’ve assisted nearly 1,000 hands for 700 families so far using their free, open-source design files. From there, the combination of experts from Cal State-Dominguez Hills, design studio Build It Workspace, and an Airwolf 3D printer brought the project to life.

The seven-year-old even had the opportunity to choose the colors and watch the printing process firsthand inside the Makerspace. Naturally, she would go on to pick a scheme of pink, blue and purple. What’s even more impressive is that the entire process took just about 24 hours. After slipping on the end product — comprised of 20 individually printed plastic pieces along with some metal screws and nuts — she was able to control it by simply moving her upper arm up and down.

And just like any kid her age would do, Faith took to her bike to test out her newly-crafted arm. It was a success! This example, among many others we’ve seen in recent weeks, demonstrates the limitless potential of 3D printers.

Maker builds a 3D-printed bionic arm for under $250

Talk to the (robotic) hand!

While we’ve seen a number of 3D-printed prosthetics, and more recently a couple of Arduino-based bionic hands, one project by Nicolas Huchet has combined the two in a rather impressive manner. It all started nearly 10 years ago when Huchet’s forearm was amputated following an accident while working as a mechanical engineer. At the time, he was given a myoelectric prosthesis whose functionality was very limited. Faced with a challenge and a hunger for more mobility, Huchet decided to develop his own bionic prosthetic, The Bionico Project. His initiative aspired to increase the accessibility of prosthetic devices through the burgeoning Maker Movement, while assisting amputees to regain independence in their daily lives.


After coming across the 3D-printed, Arduino-based robot InMoov, Huchet and a team of enthusiasts from LabFab integrated a set of muscle sensors into a prosthetic prototype, which was then placed onto his arm. The artificial limb itself was extruded from a 3D printer, while equipped with actuators to move the fingers and joints, fishing line to connect the actuators to the joints, muscle sensors and a socket, batteries and of course, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) brain.

With a little coding of the Arduino, Huchet was easily able to control the robotic hand merely through muscle impulses. The electricity produced is sent to an electronic card, which drives the motors. These motors open and close the hand, following the muscular contraction. More impressively, the entire thing was built for less than $250 — much cheaper than any commercial product on the market which can run upwards of $80,000.


“Force does not come from muscles but from mutual assistance. Unity makes us stronger. I appreciate this because I am not shaped like Sylvester Stallone,” Huchet wrote in a recent MAKE: Magazine feature. “In October 2012, while walking through Rennes, France, where I live, I passed an exhibition where strange machines, like something from science fiction, were depositing layers of material onto platforms. They were 3D printers.”

It was this sight that truly resonated with the Maker and inspired him to pursue the project. “It’s possible to design an inexpensive bionic hand that you can make yourself, then share your work so other people can improve it and share it further. I had discovered a world where we share knowledge much differently from this crazy world we are used to. I was looking at things differently; it was my revolution, my change.”


Much like the DIY movement, the Bionico Project is a true melting pot of Makers, bringing together people from all across the globe. Huchet notes that the 3D-printed digits originate from France, the muscle sensors from America, and design input from Brazil.

“I went to Italy at the Bio Robotic Institute and Maker Faire, USA, to Johns Hopkins University and to the Geek Picnic in Russia. I want to participate in worldwide research on bionic hands and share with people the many possibilities to make such products with a 3D printer, an Arduino board, cheap motors, muscle sensors and fishing lines,” Huchet revealed in a recent interview.

Currently, Bionico isn’t robust enough to be a fully-functional prosthesis; rather, still in its prototype stage, Huchet hopes to take it to the next level either through crowdfunding and/or sponsorship support.


“Above all, we want to create an international network and database devoted to improving low-cost prosthetics. This is an open-source project, which means you can participate or make it yourself. The prosthetic-hand field is very small, but if we build a bridge between countries and people, we can make it better and stronger, and go further, faster. As the American philosopher Sylvester Stallone said, ‘Big arms can move rocks, but big words can move mountains.’”

Want to learn more? You can read the entire MAKE: writeup here, while also visiting the Maker’s official webpage here.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Student creates 3D-printed prosthetic arm for a classmate

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.


In pursuit of his Masters Degree, the California College of the Arts student had the ability to utilize some seriously powerful modeling and printing tools. He immediately knew this was a situation were he could take full advantage of his surroundings. “I’ve always wanted to design a prosthetic arm for as long as I can remember so the contest was the push I needed to finally make one,” Evan told the Daily Mail.


After taking a series of pictures of his new friend Ivania’s arm, Evan devised a 3D model for a visually pleasing prosthetic. The tailored piece featured internal lighting, and as 3DPrint.com puts it, “was quite the attention grabber.” Due to the fragile and intricate nature of the hand, the Maker included a structural framework for further support within the device.


Upon Ivania’s initial use, Kuester noticed that there were several adjustments that needed to be made. He wanted to make the design less bulky and more feminine in appearance.

In his second attempt at creating a prosthetic, “The stability of the model has room for improvement, my first attempt was way to bulky and this one is a hair on the thin side and sacrifices some strength for its aesthetic,” Evan told MAKE Magazine. This time the 3D-printed piece was both feminine and beautiful in appearance.

Still, the arm is fully-functional and has allowed him to foster a friendship with Ivania. Evan plans to continue to work in 3D design and has a series of concept ideas available on his website.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a DIYer utilize Atmel enabled technologies to make an impact in someone’s life. Just recently, a $100 3D-printed design came to the rescue of a handyman who was able to regain some use of his hands following an accident which left him handicapped. 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.