May 28, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve seen how much of an impact 3D printed prosthetic devices can have from both a design customization standpoint as well as cost, we’re still yet to see just how much of an impact a 3D printed ‘smart’ prosthetic may have as we move into a new generation of connected devices.

While we’ve previously seen how robotic - or bionic - limbs can have a dramatic effect on the lives of those who were born without extremities or lost them due to injury, the costs of obtaining them have been astronomical and limited mainly to labs for research purposes or technology demonstrations.

However, a Japanese company has been actively working on a revolutionary bionic hand design that they claim can cost less than $300 to build - significantly less than even traditionally manufactured standard prosthetics.  

As 3Ders reported in March of 2015, the company behind the $300 bionic hand, exiii, spent more than two years developing the high quality bionic prosthetic and even won first prize for the Gugen Hardware Contest and placed second for the 2013 James Dyson Award - all while the product was still in development.

Exiii, which consists of graduates from Sony’s manufacturing industry including Gentu Kondo, Hiroshi Yamaura, Tetsuya Konishi and by Akira Morikawa – have concluded the first iteration of their Open Source HACKberry bionic hand and have just released all of the design files online for others to use in creating their own bionic hands using a 3D printer and some basic hardware components - including an existing smartphone for the onboard computer.

Compared to the design’s predecessor, the Handii, the HACKberry includes some additional design features that will make it more user friendly for a wider range of users.  Among others, these features include more flexible joints for more expressive movements, a refined and slimmer option for female wearers as well as the ability to work with digital camera batteries.   

Of course, the design team hopes that others will build upon these features and make the design and functions of the Open Source bionic hand even better.  

“We will release the design data of HACKberry, our latest 3D-printed bionic hand, as open source for the purpose of speeding up the development through participation of cooperators from all over the world,” said the team.  

“In addition, we hope that cooperators will deliver this artificial arm to those we cannot reach ourselves due to distance and other constraints.”

In keeping true to their Open Source values, the team even named the hand (HACKberry) after a species of elm tree that grows many branches, which they hope will be symbolic of the many design iterations and applications to come with their hand design.  

Currently, the team has uploaded all of the design files to their GitHub page including the source code for the software including sensor data and all of the necessary hardware (3D printing) files.

If there is one thing that’s for certain, this talented group has just helped launch 3D printed prosthetics even deeper into an ideal future that consists of low-cost manufacturing and accessibility for those who need it the most.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Ben wrote at 6/2/2015 8:42:26 PM:

Great project, I just wish it was actually open source. Restrictions on what you can use it for go against the long history of free and open source projects. Describing such projects as "open source" dilutes the meaning of the term. See their license: Here's the open source definition:

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