Apr. 17, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printed prosthetics, complete with a mechanic gripping mechanism, are widely popular nowadays (and with good reason), the future of 3D printed prosthetics must certainly be bionics. Instead of a simple one-option gripping mechanism, these 3D printed bionics prosthetics respond to sensors connected to muscles in your arm, giving them the capacity to replicate the movements of an actual arm.

While that sounds great, 3D printed bionic arms are not yet widely available though there are currently several interested ongoing projects working towards open source bionics, such as the British Open Bionics of Joel Gibbard and the Greek venture with the same name, consisting of postdoctoral associate at Yale Minas Liarokapis and undergraduate and PhD students Agisilaos Zisimatos, Christoforos Mavrogiannis and George.

This latter team, under the supervision of professor at the National Technical University of Athens Kostas Kyriakopoulos, recently opened the way for actual open source manufacturing. They opened a registration form on their website for people in need of bionic limbs, through which they could work together to help those people in need.

While their bionic prosthetics are still being improved upon, they have already developed a very interesting product. Their bionic prosthetics aim to be light-weight (less than 300 grams), modular and highly affordable; they could cost just $100 or $200 to make.

But of course the gripping mechanism is what counts, and their design is simple yet effective. ‘We use agonist and antagonist forces to implement flexion and extension of robot fingers, following a bioinspired approach where steady elastomer materials (silicone sheets) implement the human extensor tendons counterpart, while cables driven through low-friction tubes, implement the human flexor tendons analogous,’ they wrote on their website at the time.

However, a clip says more than a thousand words, and fortunately they have just shared a new video with us detailing exactly how these elastomer finger materials grab objects. As you can see in the clip above, wherein the bionic hand has been conveniently attached to a KUKA YouBot, their design can grasp even delicate objects with ease and transport them from point A to point B. While not yet completely finished, it definitely looks like the Greek OpenBionics hands are very capable of grasping everyday life objects around you.

If you’re interested in working with these interesting prosthetics, you can directly download their CAD designs from their website here, while the code necessary to run the custom operating system can also be downloaded from there. Alternatively, interested people can contact the Greek team through a webform on their website, in which they can simply provide a number of specifications (is it the right hand or left hand? What are your hand’s desired length and breadth? Those sort of things). They are then more than happy to provide personalized design files that can be 3D printed and assembled at home with parts available in most hardware stores. It looks like bionic hands are finally moving into the mainstream of affordable manufacturing.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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