Custom bionic hand will be 3D-printed to order – in just 10 hours
Amputees wishing to get a powered prosthetic hand – also known as a bionic hand – typically have to wait quite a while for the thing to be manufactured. Soon, however, they should be able to order a custom bionic hand that's 3D-printed within 10 hours.
Known as the IMPACT hand, the device is being developed via a collaboration between UK firm Iterate Design and Innovation Ltd, Britain's University of Warwick, its associated WMG research group, and other private companies. It was inspired by a similar hand that was invented by Ben Ryan, founder of UK startup Ambionics.
Plans call for clients to utilize a dedicated website, where they will enter the measurements of their arm stump, along with preferences such as color. Once the printing of their IMPACT hand subsequently begins, the finished product should be ready for shipping 10 hours later.
Made up of a silver-based conductive ink, the electronic circuitry is built into the polymer-bodied hand as it's being printed. When embedded sensors detect specific types of muscle activity in the user's arm, the hand's battery-powered motors are activated, causing the articulated thumb to move in or out – this functionality allows the hand to grasp and release objects.
The IMPACT project was made possible by an almost £900,000 grant (about US$1.160 million) from government-run agency Innovate UK. There's currently no word on how much the hand will cost, or when it will be commercially available.
Source: University of Warwick