Carpenter Replaces Lost Fingers With 3D-Printed "Robohand"

Carpenter Replaces Lost Fingers With 3D-Printed "Robohand"

Richard Van As's company Robohand produces affordable, 3D-printed prosthesis to help hand amputees.

One fear that most people can emphasize with is the thought of losing a hand. It's not hard to understand why. You could pick any random day out of the year and chances are most of your activities would involve the use of your hands. Even the loss of just a few of your ten fingers is something that could radically alter the way you live your life.

Just ask Richard Van As. A South African carpenter, he lost four fingers in a 2011 work accident. Hoping to find something to replace his lost digits, Van As took the internet and soon discovered that the functional prosthesis he was looking for were exorbitantly expensive and well outside of his price range. That being the case, his search wasn't entirely fruitless. While Van As wasn't able to find an affordable existing prosthesis, he did wind up finding the talent and tools he needed to make some of his own.

He met Ivan Owen, a mechanical effects artist with whom he designed and produced a new prosthesis that would serve as the basis of the duo's company Robohand. Using 3D printers the company can fit and create custom prosthetics that, once assembled, can be controlled using the wearer's own movements. "Within five minutes of getting it fitted, people can actually use it," said Robohand's communications manager Leonard Nel. "It's anatomically driven by the wrist, elbow, or shoulder once fitted."

Perhaps best of all, the prosthesis are relatively cheap as well. Whereas the equipment Van As was initially looking at could have cost him tens of thousands of dollars, a completed Robohand can cost clients as little $2000 and takes mere hours to produce and assemble. To hopefully spread the hands even further, Robohand has also shared the company's software freely on the internet. It's a move that may have already helped thousands. "There have now been over 143,000 downloads of the software," said Van As. "It's all about paying it forward as people want to help."

In the future, Robohand may be paying it forward even more than it already is. With more than 200 people already using Robohand products, it now plans to expand beyond just hands. "Our next step is to print whole legs for people to use and walk on," said Van As. "Then if we make that work, the goal is entire exoskeletons, for paraplegics to be able to walk again."

Source: CNN

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Working for a 3D printer company this story warms me up inside.

Shout-out to this guy's shirt:

image

He saw an opportunity and took it.

Other than that, this is great news. It's all well and good to see prosthetic limbs become more advanced and functional, but to see them actually become affordable and easy to produce is just, if not more, as important. I do wonder about its functionality and how well it performs compared to top-of-the-line limbs.

We can rebuild him. We have the technology.

I had no idea 3d printers could produce items robust enough to use as prosthetic hands (or even legs!). I remember when the whole 3d-printed-gun furore was happening, 3d printer companies were quick to point out that their output was not strong enough to withstand the stress of firing a gun. Obviously everyday use as a hand isn't at the same level, but still, I'm surprised it isn't prone to wear and tear.

Flatfrog:
I had no idea 3d printers could produce items robust enough to use as prosthetic hands (or even legs!). I remember when the whole 3d-printed-gun furore was happening, 3d printer companies were quick to point out that their output was not strong enough to withstand the stress of firing a gun. Obviously everyday use as a hand isn't at the same level, but still, I'm surprised it isn't prone to wear and tear.

It very well could be, but for just 200 bucks, I dont think a lot of people would mind replacing it a few times a year

It's like LensCrafters, but for hands... HandCrafters? Holy crap, Futurama is here.

The Bucket:

Flatfrog:
I had no idea 3d printers could produce items robust enough to use as prosthetic hands (or even legs!). I remember when the whole 3d-printed-gun furore was happening, 3d printer companies were quick to point out that their output was not strong enough to withstand the stress of firing a gun. Obviously everyday use as a hand isn't at the same level, but still, I'm surprised it isn't prone to wear and tear.

It very well could be, but for just 200 bucks, I dont think a lot of people would mind replacing it a few times a year

$2000. That said, as 3D printers get cheaper and more readily available, we may see that cost come down. Not to mention that by sharing the stuff freely on the internet others may improve on it.

Goddammit, THIS is the kind of stuff that 3D printers were meant for, not that bullshit with making single-use firearms. That's downright heartwarming.

"Then if we make that work, the goal is entire exoskeletons, for paraplegics to be able to walk again."

Hands, Arms en Legs? Sure, why not?
But exoskeletons will need extensive faux-nerve, -ligament and -muscle structures to work.
In short you are going from "replace some bones" to "build an entire body", which is many, many leagues apart.
Think about stuff like balancing, for one.

RoonMian:
We can rebuild him. We have the technology.

And the best part is, he actually asked for this.

So this is the wooden leg stump of the 21st century? 3D printing isn't the cure for all missing limbs but they are a simple, low tech solution. I find it funny that real medical advancement on limb replacement gets ignored by this website, I suppose sensationalism has a place here.

This is somewhat old news (I remember seeing this either on the news or ArsTechnica one or two years ago), but hooray for 3-D printing.

Btw, what is the journalistic standard of reporting old news? I understand CNN committing part of a special on it (so basically, part of a special interest report with more detailed, historical coverage of a subject), but publishing this in the Escapist as current news seems a bit silly.

 

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