Richard Van As of South Africa lost four fingers in a woodworking accident last year. He absolutely needs his hands for his trade, so he contacted a company that makes functional fingers. But a price of US$10,000 per finger is way too much for him to afford. All the people he contacted, health professionals, engineering firms, told him it was a crazy idea and would be too difficult.
Richard decided to build his own hand. He came across a video of making functional Mechanical hands created by Ivan Owen, a designer in Washington State. Richard sent him an email asking if Ivan could help him find a way to figure out the design he had been working on to restore two of the 4 fingers.
There was no hesitation. The two men decided to work together to make a mechanical system that could replace Richard's digits.
Richard sent a plastic mold of his hand for Ivan to use as a reference. Using their knowledge in tooling and mechanical processes and what Ivan obtained from building mechanical costume hands, they have developed a human powered prototype that comes close to matching the grip strength of a normal finger. Motion of Richard's remaining digit-stump will be able to control the movement of the artificial finger joints.
(Images credit: Ivan Owen)
The hand mount is made from rigid material and formed to the amputee's hand. It can be easily realized on a 3D printer. The artificial finger is made up of a rigid lever arm to which pulleys, a form fitting sleeve, hinge and Finger tip with grip pad are attached. You can find some detailed description here.
Richard and Ivan are currently raising $5,000 on Fundly. Due to the generosity of those who have contributed, they have got their first milling machine in Richard's shop in South Africa and a Makerbot Replicator 3D printer in the US. They plan to have a milling machine and a printer in both countries as things grow, and need some help to pay for sold materials.
Richard and Ivan realized that figuring out a viable solution to this problem could benefit the lives of many individuals. Their plan is to build Rich's hand out of high-quality and durable materials so that he can get a prosthesis for free, and in a longer term the two will take that knowledge and create online tutorials on prosthetic finger construction so that people can build these systems all over the world. They will also build more hands for people who don't have the access to produce them themselves for free.
At the time of writing, we see updates on the their funding site: - "In November - Ivan will be flying to South Africa to meet Richard in person, thanks to the generous donation of frequent flier miles by Mark Cowley - so they can finally be in the same place at the same time and get this made into a solid design. "
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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