This year’s Dyson award goes to to a new 3-D printed robotic hand which can be created in two days and is lower in cost than any prior upper extremity prosthesis.
Prior existing upper extremity prosthetics can take weeks or months to make. The cost of this product will be around £2000 compared to prior existing models which cost between £20,000 to £30,000. The device uses a thermoplastic elastomer to make it more rubbery and less likely to break compared to plastic. It is this material which also helps to decrease the cost of the device. However, Joel Gibbard, the inventor reports this device uses a lower cost motor, so the strength of the device may be reduced.
The Open Bionics hand relies on myoelectrical signals from sensors for movement or to control grip. A single contraction of the muscle can open or close the fingers where compared to double contraction which will form a pinch grip. Sensors also can tell when they come into contact with an item allowing owners to pick up even fragile items like an egg without breaking them.
The current design supports those with below elbow extremity amputations but Open Bionics has future plans to also help above elbow amputees. We’re excited about the potential of 3D printing for prosthetic creation, are there any other situations where 3D printing is being used in our profession, let us know!