SA child given 3D-printed prosthetic hand

A five-year old South African has become the first owner of a 3D-printed prosthetic hand, nicknamed the Robohand, the design for which has been placed into the public domain online.

Liam’s mother contacted designers Richard Van As and Ivan Owen after reading their blog, enquiring about the possibility of a prosthetic hand for her son, who was born without fingers to his right hand. Van As and Owen decided to make Liam their priority, with the little boy receiving his new hand in January.

The fingers and wrists of the device are created by 3D printer, connected by cables and bungee cords to enable movement of the hand. The whole device costs no more than US$150.

Liam is already able to pick up small objects, such as coins, and play ball games with his Robohand.

South African Van As and Owen, from the United States, have pledged to make the full and final designs available for free download, having already put the design as it stands now into the public domain on Thingiverse, adding updates and advice for reproduction as the design develops.

The two men have collaborated for almost two years despite the 10,000 miles separating them.

Having lost four fingers in a work accident in 2010, Van As set about developing a mechanical solution to replace the missing fingers. Spotting a YouTube video by Owen displaying a mechanical hand, he contacted him and the collaborative project began.

The duo has worked tirelessly ever since, communicating via email, phone and Skype, sharing photographs and drawings, culminating in a meeting in Johannesburg in November 2012 when the pair spent four days perfecting their design and produced the first two fully working devices.

Posted in: Gadgets

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