Prosthetics are expensive, with some costing from $20,000 to $35,000, which is why some engineers are trying to create cheap arms and hands using 3D printing. Christopher Chappell from Manchester in the U.K. wanted to create a cheap robotic hand that’s as advanced as commercially available models, but significantly cheaper. His design has reached its funding goal on KickStarter with pledges of over £11,000.
We’ve already seen the Robohand which is a free, open-source design that’s available on Thingiverse for download. Christopher admired the Robohand but wanted to go one step further and create a prosthetic that uses servos and a tendon system to allow the fingers and thumb to move. The arm even uses a Nintendo Power Glove as a control glove to provide sensor feedback from the hand to the electronics.
The arm uses the popular Arduino microcontroller and off-the-shelf electronics to drive the servos and the controlling software will be open-source allowing modification to the arm’s function. Combining their expertise has allowed the team to design and test the arm in record time, a task taking months rather than years.
Christopher has partnered with Easton, based in Colorado, who will 3D print the parts, assemble the arms and program the electronics. The prototype arm can be seen in the following project video.