Open Bionics is a low-cost 3D printed prosthetic hand company that has been attracting attention since showcasing their device at last year’s CES in Las Vegas. As with other 3D printed prosthetic endeavours, the goal is to bring the cost of custom prosthetics down so those most in need, often situated in developing countries, can have access to the life-changing technology.
The Open Bionics hand takes things to the next level by incorporating electronic systems that interpret signals and convert them into hand movements. And now, if you have a little bit of money, time and know-how to spare, you can make your own Open Bionics Ada robotic hand thanks to a very detailed tutorial over at Instructables.
The tutorial says assembly of the 3D printed parts will only take an hour once all the components have been sourced and 3D printed. Also, the assembly process is exactly the same for both the left and right hand except for minor differences while mounting the electronics. As is the case for many 3D printable hands with open-source origins, all the required 3D print files are available to download directly fromThingiverse. In this case, a combination of 100g PLA/ABS and 200g of Ninjaflex is needed.
After looking through the files, they all appear to be printable with desktop 3D printing technology so all is well there. The palm portion of the hand is too large to fit on the printbed of my Makerbot Replicator 2 so if you do plan on making the hand, I advise double checking if the printer you have access too is capable of 3D printing at the required size.
Overall print time for the 4 main components (palm, PCB tray upper/lower and Back cover) comes in at roughly 28 hours if you follow their print quality and infill recommendations. The remaining assembly components are available through the Open Bionics online shop and consist of an Almond PCB board (£150), 5 x PQ12-30-12-P Linear Actuators (£225), 5 x Micro Gel Fingertip grips (£10), 20 x M3 Bolts and inserts (£10) and Tendon Line (£3). If my math is correct, the total cost for the 3D printed hand is roughly £500 all in (includes estimated cost of a spool of PLA and Ninjaflex filament). While a bit pricier than some of the pure 3D printed prosthetic devices on the market today (eNable hands for example) the capabilities provided by the electric components is where the added value comes into play.
Once you have all the parts by your side, it really does appear the one-hour assembly time is all you’ll need. The instructions are incredibly clear with diagrams to help you out along the way. And while a bit of soldering experience is required, it seems as though even a beginner can get the required work done. Once the firmware is loaded into the PCB board, it appears you you are now able to congratulate yourself by saying you’ve put together a high-tech prosthetic hand at a fraction of the cost you would have dealt with just a few years ago.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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