A New Era for Prosthetics

This is Hayley. She's one of the first people in the UK to be fitted with a prosthetic hand that has been created with a commercially available desktop 3D printer and made for around £30. The organization behind the designs of this hand is called e-Nable and they facilitate matches between children with upper limb differences and 3D printer owners. In this way, they have created a distributed network of micro-manufacturing plants and operators to help kids get the prosthetics they deserve. I'm sure you'll agree it's an incredible achievement and an admirable cause.

Photo Credit: bbc.co.uk

Photo Credit: bbc.co.uk

I recently had the honor of meeting the people behind this charity, they're all volunteers and do everything from maintaining the designs and the website, to matching amputees and makers and even handling the overwhelming amount of press they've received through all of their incredible work. It was humbling to see how much of a difference these e-Nable hands can make to a childs life. The kids receive these hands with so much enthusiasm and joy, and besides the function there are huge psychological and physical benefits to using these hands. Jorge Zuniga from the Creighton University told me about how through his research, he has discovered that using one of these devices can increase childrens' muscle tissue. Kids even become more confident wearing these hands and this helps them to embrace and celebrate their limb differences.

I've been working on creating a robotic prosthetic hand for amputees. I want to create something that is highly functional, custom fitted, light weight and beautiful to look at but most importantly, incredibly low cost. Through the Open Hand Project I've managed to create highly functional, 3D printed robotic hands and this has proved that it's possible to do.

At Open Bionics we've created a new type of robotic hand, one that's 3D printed in a single part, requiring very little assembly. It's finding its niche in the robotics market now and has the potential to offer a completely new level of benefit to amputees in terms of robustness, weight and dexterity.

Now our ambitions are set even higher. We want to change the status quo of the prosthetics industry. Instead of long waits, bulky prosthetics, and costly fitting consultations, we want to create sleek, lightweight prosthetics that use millimeter-perfect 3D scanning and 3D printing for the perfect fit. We want to build on the work from people like those at e-Nable, keeping all of our prosthetics open-source for anyone to build on even further. We want children to have new options that they've never had in the past, to have prosthetics that match or even exceed the abilities of their human counterparts.

This is an exciting time for all of us, 3D printing is transforming the prosthetic and medical industry and enabling us to grant greater freedom for amputees.

We want you to join us on our journey! Keep up to date with this blog for news, developments, and tutorials about 3D printing our robotic hands or follow @openbionics on twitter for more frequent updates!