Sep 9, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years, we’ve seen hundreds of 3D printed prosthetics around the web, which are making their owners all over the world very happy. While there are a few conventional 3D printable models out there, virtually all have one thing in common: they are trying to mimic the shape of the regular human hand. But is that necessary? Dutch designer Roel Deden is forcing us to rethink those prosthetic shapes with a brand new and 3D printed arm prosthesis called Printhese, for which he has rightly won the Dutch James Dyson Award 2015.

The young designer Roel Deden (1987) hails from Haarlem in the Netherlands, and graduated from the Dutch Design Academy in Eindhoven a few years ago. His entire approach has been to develop products to help people and sole everyday problems. For this particular project, he became inspired by friend Lianne Schepers, who had lost her arm to bone cancer. Hearing about the inconveniences and high costs attached to her arm prosthetic, he decided he could do better.

The problem with the original arm prosthesis is that it a labor-intensive titanium and glass fiber construction that is also very heavy to wear. A fitting is made specifically for her, featuring broad bands that attach it to Lianne’s shoulder; the whole process takes about six months. Price tag? €8000 (or approximately $9000 USD). What’s more, Lianne never wore it, because she felt it was too uncomfortable and too heavy. The hook was also difficult to use and could easily break things it grabbed. And because she had to wait months for it to arrive, she had already gotten used to the look and life without an arm.

‘I have always been fascinated with products that enter into a relationship with the body. Prostheses are especially interesting, because they are designed to improve or restore a specific function or skill. When I heard about Lianne’s problems and saw and heard what it cost to get a prosthesis, I decided that could be done simpler and cheaper,’ the designer says. The result, the Printhese, consists of just a few parts that are assembled with three typical screws. It is attached to the stump with a flexible textile band that can be adjusted for height and fit. The important grabbing mechanism, essentially consists of a huge pair of pliers that opens and shuts in the region between the torso and the upper arm. Various pockets in the beak of the pliers enable the grabbing and holding of objects of different sizes.

What’s more, the lightweight design of the Printhese makes it easy and comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. This is all thanks to the use of 3D printing, which also makes production very quick and lowers the costs all the way down to about €300. This obviously also enables the creation of differently sized parts for different functions. ‘The Printhese is light, and it easily fits everyone and remains easy to remove. It can also be easily adapted and recreated through 3D printing,’ Roel explains about his aptly named creation.

Hardly surprisingly, the Printhese did very well in the Brain Awards design competition in Eindhoven. This competition included students from four different schools in Eindhoven, and Printhese was awarded the Innovation Award. The jury panel further unanimously agreed to grant the Printhese the Dutch James Dyson Award. As you will doubtlessly understand, this is the national version of the international competition for innovative design and technology that seeks to stimulate intelligent problem solving. Every national winner is awarded 2,000 pounds (or approximately $3000 USD), as well as a chance to win a further 30,000 pounds (or $46,000 USD) in the international annual competition. And it would not at all surprise us if the Printhese did well there, too. 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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