Jose Delgado Jr's 3D printed prosthetic
It struck me recently that although we see a lot of talk about effective prostheses being 3D printed, the likes of Robohand are usually worn by those who cannot afford a professionally manufactured prosthetic and therefore comparisons between the two are few and far between.
3D Universe have been able to conduct a study with Jose Delgado Jr. a 53-year-old man who has spent his entire life without a left hand. Despite owning a $42,000 Myoelectric prosthetic he was intrigued by the stories of 3D printed prosthetics flooding the internet.
He contacted Jeremy Simons of 3D Universe and asked him if he could make him an e-NABLE hand, which is derived from the much-loved Richard van As Robohand. This particular design, the ‘Cyborg Beast’ cost a total of $50 in hardware to make – though unlike the price of the Myoelectric model this does not include the R&D as it was part of a volunteer ran open-source project to develop better, cheaper prosthesis.
In the video above Jose Delgado Jr. compares the benefits to the 3D printed hand to the expensive prosthetic. According to Jose, Cyborg Beast grips much better than the Myoelectric prosthetic due to the fact that the more expensive model only grips with the thumb and the first two fingers whereas the 3D printed version grips with all five digits.
Jose’s job involves carrying lots of boxes and so long as the box doesn’t weigh over 25lbs he prefers to use the 3D printed version. He doesn't just prefer it for carrying boxes either he prefers it for driving too. The Myoelectric arm uses muscle signals in his forearm to trigger closing or opening the fingers, if he hits a bump in the road this can cause the fingers to open. With the Cyborg Beast, which works with wrist movement the fingers remain in the closed position unless the wrist is turned upright.
Comments beneath the YouTube video suggest that the Myoelectric arm Jose has is dated and that technology has moved on massively, the “Terminator” false arm for instance, which allows the user to tie shoelaces. Comparing the two is deemed invalid by one poster when the Myoelectric arm is not cutting edge prosthetics.
However, this is totally missing the point, the fact that Jose Delgado paid a large chunk of the $42,000 towards the Myoelectric prosthetic and yet it is being surpassed by a $50 hand made by 3D printing enthusiasts goes to show quickly the technology does move. Jose, and many like him, can only afford to buy one prosthetic in their lives, not splash out on a new one every year like it is a smartphone.
The improvements seen in these 3D printed prosthetics are exponential and the people that dedicate their time to such worthy projects deserve more praise than anyone. Brilliant work from a brilliant project.