Mar. 22, 2015 | By Alec

The availability of affordable 3D printed prosthetics, that are easy to customize, repair, replace and adjust, has been surging in recent years. Already thousands of people are using them, though of course, most of these are simple plastic prosthetics with a mechanical grip. But more and more signs suggest that 3D printed bionic alternatives are on their way; just earlier this week a team of Greek scientists unveiled their open source 3D printable designs, and now Japanese start-up Exiii reveals the latest functioning prototype of their inexpensive and 3D printed Handiii.

Dedicated readers might remember the Handiii (previously known as Handie), as Exii has been working it on since 2013. This team of graduates from Sony’s manufacturing industry – consisting of Gentu Kondo, Hiroshi Yamaura, Tetsuya Konishi and by Akira Morikawa – are now finally nearing production. Over the past two years they have developed a high quality bionic prosthetic that could cost as little as $300 and have won the first prize in Gugen hardware contest in Tokyo with their concept, as well as the second price in the 2013 James Dyson Award.

As they have explained, they are aiming to make this product a casual option that can be worn as if it was watch or a pair of glasses, not as a crazily expensive medical device. As they explained, only one percent of disabled Japanese people in need of a hand prosthetic are currently wearing one, as they are simply so crazily expensive. After four prototypes, however, all that is about to change. They have implemented three cost-cutting innovations that could make bionic prosthetics more affordable than ever, and the sneak preview at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas last week shows that things are looking great.

While most bionic prosthetics run on very expensive sensors, the Handiii Myoelectric hand cuts costs by incorporating app-based smartphone technology that collects signals from the muscles of the amputated arm. This data is then wirelessly sent to the myoelectric arm. However, much more money is saved by the clever design of the arm itself, which is constructed from 3D printed parts – for easy repair and customization – and features just a single motor per finger.

The sensors can be seen in action here (at the SXSW festival in Austin).

Rather than paying thousands per prosthetic, these Handiii hands can be made for as little as $300 thanks to this clever setup while sacrificing nothing in terms of customization. Colors, textures and even functions can be altered to suit the wishes of the customer thanks to 3D printing technology.

While all that has been said for a while, the Handiii team is now also finally proving that is actually works. Akira Morikawa – who himself has lost part of his right arm – and others have been testing the arm, as can be seen in the clip below. Items with weird shapes have so far provided no challenge at all, while items can easily weigh up to 500 grams and still be picked up.

At the end of 2014, the team even launched a very successful crowdfunding campaign on the Japanese version of Kickstarter KibiDango. Intending to raise 700,000 Yen (or about $5700) to construct the first working handiii’s for two coworkers, they have actually managed to gather about five times as much, with more than 3,500,000 Yen in pledges (approximately $29,000) already. All those funds are currently being invested in development and manufacturing to bring these arms to the people who need them. They are also currently looking into options to make the Handiii open source and available for technical universities. It looks like the Handiii is finally coming. 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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