…One man, by the name of Steve Wood has taken the idea of 3D printing prosthetics to new level. We are used to seeing 3D printed robotic hands that look… well… quite “robotic”. Wood, however, the founder of a mechanical design consultancy company called Gyrobot Ltd., has create a new type of prosthetic hand, using very unique ideas. He calls the design the “Flexy-Hand“.
His hand looks very much like a real human hand. Even more impressive though, is that it also operates much like a human hand. By using Filaflex flexible filament, Wood has made a hand that is like nothing else that we have seen before.
“I have to say the idea is all mine, but the inspiration to make something different comes from many of the other prosthetics out there, which generally use traditional pin style hinge joints,” Wood explained to 3DPrint.com. “Wherever there is a fastener, there is always a chance it becomes an un-fastener, and works itself loose, so screws/nuts and bolts should be avoided wherever possible. Especially in an application such as rotational hinge pins. Also “vitamins” (non-3D printed parts) are items that need to be sourced at the right sizes, which isn’t always possible in some locations. The flexible hinges in my design can be printed at the right size first hit (hopefully) on the same 3D printer. This also makes a tool free assembly possible.”
Wood used his expertise as an engineer and CAD designer to perfect his prosthetic hand to work very much like a human hand. Like a human hand, the Flexy-Hand uses tendons to operate each finger individually. These tendons are made out of strips of Filaflex, and work surprisingly well. In fact, with a simple motor added to this design, it should work very well to grasp and pick up objects….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!