Apr 24, 2018 | By David

A Vietnamese military pilot has recently received a groundbreaking 3D printed prosthetic. Dinh Van Duong was the sole survivor of a major air crash in which 20 people were killed, and he lost the use of all of his limbs. Since then he has undergone 24 extremely complex surgeries, in an effort to restore some health and mobility. The latest development in his remarkable story is a result of pioneering 3D printing work from Vietnamese company 3D Master Company, which provided Duong with a 3D printed bionic hand. The hand can be controlled by Duong’s own brainwaves.

While 3D printed prosthetic limbs are now a relatively common thing to see all over the world, as even hobbyists are now capable of 3D printing replacement body parts, bionic prosthetics are a little more advanced. 3D Master Company’s development process was long and required a lot of different iterations and modifications. In the beginning, only one or two fingers were operated by the bionic hand’s mechanism and control system, before eventually all five were functional. The cost of the process wasn’t too excessive, however, due to the company’s use of 3D printing. The resulting bionic hand was around 40 percent cheaper to produce than similar prosthetics.

The majority of the mechanical and structural components that make up the bionic hand were produced using 3D printing technology. A Zortrax M200 3D printer was used to print the parts according to a digital model, which was based on detailed 3D scans of what remained of Duong’s arm. This ensured that the fit would be effective and comfortable. The team made use of Zortrax’s Z-ULTRAT filament for the fingers, to make them strong and also lightweight. After printing, they were subsequently covered with silicon, in order to increase the frictional forces when the hand is holding an object.

Each of the five fingers is controlled by a separate motor, to enable the maximum possible mobility. When Duong wants to hold or grasp something, the brainwaves that he emits are picked up by sensors. The signal is then digitized, and transmitted on to the circuit board so they can be transformed into a mechanical movement via the motors.

(source: Zortrax)

According to Duong, ''With this bionic hand, I can hold a bottle of water and pour water into a cup. The first time I used this hand, it was difficult to control it using my thoughts. After being instructed by technicians of 3D Master Company, I can use it with ease and I understand the basic working principle of this prosthetic hand.''

Having proven the potential of the technology, 3D Master Company now intends to develop 500 more bionic hands for people in Vietnam and other countries this year. The company will continue to leverage Zortrax’s 3D printing systems and materials. In the process of scaling up its operations, 3D Master Company hopes to also continue to reduce the price of production. The projected target is less than $3,500 for each hand.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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