Jan 9, 2017 | By Tess

A Philadelphia-based industrial design student has created a functional 3D printed prosthetic arm inspired by Venom Snake, a character from the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The impressive 3D printed prosthetic can be replicated by anyone, as the maker has made his 3D files open source.

The Venom Snake prosthetic, distinguishable by its bright red color, was commissioned by a 30-year-old who was born without a left hand. The unnamed recipient of the 3D printed prosthetic was in search of a device that would a) not make other people uncomfortable (like he claims his prosthetic claw had) and b) have more functionality than other standard non-motorized prosthetics. To help in his quest for a new prosthetic, the man reached out to 23-year-old Jackson Gordon, a student of industrial design and the founder of Armatus Designs, a Philadelphia-based industrial design firm.

As Gordon explained in an interview: “When he initially came to me, he said, ‘The claw makes other people very uncomfortable.’ They look at it, but they don’t want to say anything. And, prosthetics that actually look human often come off as tacky, so some people are uncomfortable with that, as well. He wanted something that functioned a little better, but also didn’t make people feel uncomfortable, which is why he chose the red design, which makes it something of a conversation piece.”

Venom Snake

Though the 3D printed prosthetic does not integrate the same weaponry as Venom Snake’s bionic arm, it can adequately grip and pick up objects thanks to a novel knob mechanism. Unlike with many other affordable 3D printed prosthetics, Gordon could not rely on wrist movement for controlling the fingers, as the man receiving the arm did not have a wrist. To overcome this challenge, the maker integrated a simple knob system on the hand that, when turned, closes or opens the fist, allowing for objects to be gripped.

The bright red prosthetic is made up of 45 3D printed parts, as well as many retention springs (14 per finger joint, to be exact), seven feet of steel wire, and many screws. The overall design and construction process for the Venom Snake prosthetic took Gordon roughly six months to complete, though he maintains it was an exciting, educational, and worthwhile experience. Impressively, and importantly, the 3D printed prosthetic hand was made for under $100, making it significantly cheaper than most standard prosthetics on the market.

While motorized prosthetics have their benefits, Gordon explains why he opted to make his hand motor-free: “Once you get into motors, you get into programming, and then it’s not waterproof, and you’re worrying about much more expensive components. And, it would’ve taken me exponentially longer to actually construct it if it was motorized.”

According to the young maker, this is his first time making a prosthetic hand. His previous projects include an elaborate Arkham Knight Combat Batsuit, a custom lightsaber, Tony Stark flight repulsors, and a number of other cosplay pieces. Judging by the photos and videos of the 3D printed prosthetic, however, Gordon seems to have a knack for it.

To help make his game-inspired, non-motorized prosthetic as accessible as possible, Gordon has uploaded all the 3D files for it, along with instructions, onto his website. “I spent six months of my life, and poured it into this project, so to not have it benefit as many people as possible would be a waste,” he commented. “I’m excited to see what people do with the designs.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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