3D printed hand offers hope to amputees


A company in Bristol in Britain has combined 3D scanning and printing methods to produce a new prosthetic hand which could transform the lives of amputees.

Open Bionics stated that this is the first time the method has used and is of particular interest to child amputees. The process takes several days to reach completion and included connecting a scanner to a tablet computer to take measurements from various markers on the amputated limb. The dimensions are sent to a 3D printer which produces the hand.

The printer gradually forms the arm by layering beads of the materials and allowing it to set. The system is controlled via a range of 12V linear actuators which allow horizontal movement and makes the construction more precise than traditional method of prosthetic creation, which included plaster moulds and manual planning and construction.

The team involved with the prosthetic is hoping to adjust the current outcome to achieve a lighter and sleeker result. This is extremely important as the main target for the product is children whose families are often unable to meet the cost of prosthetic limbs.

A prosthetic arm costs between £10000 and £70000, but due to the rapid growth experienced by children, a new limb may be required annually, drastically increasing the costs involved. The new 3D printed hand should be able to retail from about £1200, which is a massive cost reduction.

This solution is set to become more common in future, once it has been refined and redeveloped to be more flexible and lighter. This new development places focus on the advantages to the increasingly used 3D printing technology which is able to enhance manufacturing procedures and create products at a much reduced cost than was previously possible.

Image Credit: www.openbionics.com


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