Ever since the stories about the cost-effectivity and ergonomic benefits of 3D printed prosthetics first appeared, those visions and videos of kids and adults having their lives transformed by printed hands and other limbs have captured the imaginations of a generation. The diversity of printed prothetic models is becoming increasingly promising and pertinant. Last year, KidMob held a workshop at the Brown University School of Engineering called Superhero Cyborgs, a build-your-own prosthetics workshop for kids ages 7-16. Now, KidMob is to repeat the workshop, and is offering active participation in the event. Superhero Cyborgs proves to be a highly relavant name in itself: The past year has seen a number of 3D printed hand prothetics that are modelled on favourite superheros, such as Iron Man and Wolverine!
The pragmatism, pure practicality of a USD$50 piece of technology doing the work of what previously would have cost in the order of $50,000 doesn’t begin to compare with the life-changing results for those using these prothetics. But, even further still, why not make those replacement limb parts even more exciting by pushing the boundaries of thought in terms of their appearance. Further still, their functionality, as the Iron Man model proffered the opportunity to augment the hand with modern technologies such as sensors, accelerometers, wireless-devices, even smart watches!
One of the previous year’s output from KidMob features on Hackaday this week. Nine-year-old Aidan helped Autodesk Pier 9 fabrication facility designer Coby with a highly adjustable approach to a hand prosthetic. The three-dimensionally printed device is flower shaped to adapt to the growing limb that it attaches to, from there the form of the prosthetic expands to continue to be functional and comfortable as a child ages.
There is also a high amount of flexibility, in terms of the range of attachments that can be affixed to provide multi-functionality. This was illustrated when The Atlantic newspaper featured the prothesis in November, in an article entitled ‘The Boy With The Lego Hand.’ Literally Coby was using lego to create wonderful hand models for himself. Spoons and other utentils can easily be connected. Even a Wii games console remote. Again, the possibilities are amazing, and almost endless.
Customisation is the name of the game, and with an increasing number of amateurs and experts getting involved in the design process, the children themselves are able to get involved in envisioning just how they want their hand prothetic to appear. And thenfabricate them on a 3D printer. The possibilities are almost endless, and most probaly soon, push the potential for prothetic hands that are more functional than the those which they are currently designed to replicate from the medical device industry.
You can find the instructions for making your own innovative Playful Prosthetic Arm on Instructables.