Healing hands with 3D printed exoskeletons

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Inventive researchers from Curtin University in Australia have come up with a 3D-printed way to help injured hands heal faster.

Thanks to the hard work of these researchers, a device called the “” can act as an exoskeleton with embedded, battery-powered motors that move the fingers for the patient as part of rehabilitation, potentially cutting down the time taken to get healed up.

The exoskeleton is made of 3D printed parts. Being 3D-printed means that the device can be affordably made, and come come out of the heating bed with no assembly work needed. The complicated linkages – which are made with eight rigid parts and pins per finger – are built into the design for the 3D print. It’s also customisable with 48 parameters that can be changed to better fit an individual’s hand.

Dr Lei Cui, a mechatronics engineers from Curtin, came up with the idea in talks with performance artist Professor Stelarc. Stelarc is well known for acts which integrate robotics into his body. He also legally changed his name from Stelios Arcadiou to simply “Stelarc”; do with that information what you will.

Student mechatronics engineer Anthony Phan helped develop the exoskeleton as part of his final year thesis project; we imagine his professor must have been very impressed. No word has been given as to his grade received for the project, though.

Pictured: Anthony Phan with the hand. Garry Allison and David Parsons (both members of Curtin University) helped with the project.
Pictured: Anthony Phan with the hand. Garry Allison and David Parsons (both members of Curtin University) helped with the project.

The Assisted Finger Orthosis could be potentially created for only $100 (R1 342), and we imagine the flexibility of 3D printing had something to do with that low entry point. While more expensive than used ice cream sticks and some tape, we’re sure you’ll agree this will do a better job.

While this works in theory, we’ll have to wait for it to be used by more people before we can draw conclusions about its effectiveness.

[Source – Phys.org , Images – Curtin University Australia]

Clinton Matos

Clinton Matos

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of htxt.africa.

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