May 16, 2015 | By Simon

If there’s one thing that anybody who has been paying attention to the 3D printing industry knows, it’s that 3D printed prosthetic devices have been among the most revolutionary products made available thanks to the low cost and customizable nature of additive manufacturing.

While some of the earliest prosthetic devices provided basic functionality for those with minimal use of their fingers, the 3D printed prosthetic designs have literally created an entirely new industry that includes both non-profit organizations and professional designers aimed at further revolutionizing these amazing and low-cost enabling devices.

Now, highly-skilled maker Patrick Slade has taken it upon himself to build off of existing 3D printing prosthetic designs and has since released his design for an inexpensive, open source advanced prosthetic hand on Instructables; the “Tact”.  Slade - whose side interests include 3D printing, robotics and green designs - is currently a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

According to Slade, the Tact is more than just another prosthetic hand; between its user friendly design and low cost, it has much of the same potential as hands that costs thousands of dollars to produce.  

Adds Slade:

“Tact exceeds other open-source prosthetic hand models in several ways: it costs only $100 for all components ($250 to also add myoelectric control), can be assembled using only one hand and a clamp, achieves the same performance as current $30k-40k commercial prosthetic hands, and when used with myoelectric (muscle) control can easily perform several different grasps such as fine pinch, three-jaw chuck, power grip, etc.”

Additionally, Slade took into account that many of those who might use the Tact are not merely using it for novelty purposes but rather, an aide in their day-to-day life.  Because of this, he has focused on including reliability into his design in the form of sophisticated mechanics that a wearer can feel confident about rather than something that could break down easily.

To create the Tact, Slade used his own MakerBot Replicator 2X however most desktop 3D printers are capable of printing the necessary STL files  that he has provided on his Github page.  In total, it took Slade 14 hours to 3D print his Tact parts with 10% infill at a .2mm resolution.   

For those that plan to build the Tact, Slade has provided all of the necessary files and an in-depth assembly process tutorial over on the Tact’s Instructables page.

While the majority of the components can be produced on a 3D printer, some additional object will be needed to assemble the hand.  Slade including these in a Bill of Materials on his Instructables page and can be found at most hardware stores.  As for tools, all that’s need is a screwdriver, needle nose pliers and wire cutters.

Whether those who choose to build the Tact do so out of fun or for necessity, Slade adds that he “hopes it gets to those who need it” and that there are plenty of modifications that can be made for possible different needs of a user - including voice control.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new generation of more "smart prosthetics" that Makers will continute to offer as open source designs for those that need them.  To find out more and see the build instructions in-full, be sure to head over to the Tact Instructables page.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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