3D printed mechanical hands are the recent additions to the 3D printed human organs which has gained momentum over the last few years and with great success.
With the growing research being carried out on 3D printing and how it can be applied in the field of medicine, it seems to be yielding some fruits. Recently the ability to 3D print organs including 3D teeth has encouraged many researchers into this widely unexplored field of science which is already revolutionizing the technology world.
With this in mind, two researchers have been able to develop a low-cost 3D printed mechanical hand. The researchers from the University of Capetown, Dr. George Vicatos and his Masters student Severin Tenim , who developed this mechanical hand which will help amputees with individual finger control were awarded at the Popular Mechanics Future Tech event held in Capetown.
The main aim while coming up with the project was to develop a cheap alternative for amputees that will almost give them back normal hand functionality. True to this goal, the researchers were able to offer this solutions as the hand is set to cost $2200 which is a small fraction compared to the electronic hands now available in the market that sell at between $40,000 and $80,000.
Figure 1 Mechanical Hand Image: University of Cape Town
The prosthetic alternative allows users to control the fingers by using a metal cord and release functionality where the cords are placed at the back and the shoulder movements are responsible for the release functionality therefore enabling the movement of the fingers. The parts used to assemble the mechanical hand were 3D printed at the University of Cape Town.
These findings will for sure go a long way in improving the lives of amputees all over the world at an affordable cost.
Figure 2 mechanical hand in action Image: University of Cape Town
By offering the potential prosthetic alternative at a price 10 times cheaper, Vicatos and Tenim aims to give another cost-effective and yet more creative option for South African amputees.
The 3D printed light traps have shown increased electrical output of the photovoltaic cells to up to 13%. Dutch researchers have been able to develop light traps which improve the efficiency of photovoltaic solar cells.