I recently had the opportunity to work with a great guy named Jose Delgado, Jr., a 53-year old who was born without most of his left hand. I made a 3D printed prosthetic hand for Jose and, after using it for a while, I asked him to give me some honest feedback about how it compares to his more expensive myoelectric prosthesis. This is obviously not an “apples to apples” comparison in terms of the devices, but the real value of a prosthesis comes from how useful it is on a day-to-day basis, and that is the focus of the comparison here.
This 3D printed prosthesis is a completely mechanical design. There are 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….
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!