Robohand uses 3D printing to replace lost digits

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Posted on September 10, 2013

Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, lost four fingers from his right hand to a circular saw two years ago.
He was unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to get a myoelectric hand, which detects a muscle’s electric impulses to activate an artificial limb.

Robohand uses 3D printing to replace lost digits

In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 Dylan Laas shows how his Robohand works during an interview with the Associated Press in Johannesburg. Laas who was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, got his hand from carpenter, Richard van As who lost four fingers to a circular saw two years ago and started workin on building the Robohand after seeing a video posted online of a mechanical hand made for a costume in a theater production. Since then van As has fitted Robohands on about 170 people, from toddlers to adults. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
“After my accident, I was in pain, but wouldn’t take painkillers. I barely slept, and the more pain I had the more ideas I got,” he told The Associated Press. “Sometimes you have to chop fingers off to start thinking.”

He decided to build his own hand. After seeing a video posted online of a mechanical hand made for a costume in a theater production, he reached out to its designer, Ivan Owen, in Seattle.

Enter Robohand—a device that Van As and Owen invented that is made from cables, screws, 3D printing and thermoplastic. It uses the rotation of a joint to enable five plastic digits to grasp. The device looks like a robot’s hand in a science fiction movie, costs about $500 to make and can be reproduced using plans on the Internet and a 3D printer.

Van As is now on a mission to spread the mechanism to people without fingers or hands all over the world. The two gadget-lovers collaborated on developing a design for the device for a wide range of ages that could be used to grab objects, unlike most existing arm prostheses. Van As has fitted Robohands on about 170 people, from toddlers to adults, thanks to donations.

 

Read more at: Phys.org



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