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Prosthetic Hand 3D Printed

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 10:08AM

Prosthetics can be amazing pieces of technology as some now replace the functionality of the lost limb, such as prosthetic hands actually capable of multiple grips. Of course, being so advanced, these prosthetics are not cheap with the average myoelectric prosthetic costing between $30,000 and $40,000. By using 3D printing though, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have brought that cost down to $270.

For years the researchers have been working on electromyographic technology needed for controlling and receiving feedback from prosthetics, though this use of 3D printing has sped up the work. The pieces of the prosthetic take 30 hours to print and another two hours to assemble, with the electronics needed to convert neural signals into movements inside of it. That is except for the electromyographic board, which is currently about the size of an audio mixing board, but will eventually be small enough to fit into the residual limb's socket. A key part of the electronics is a microcontroller with a machine learning algorithm. It is responsible for learning the inputs and correctly converting them into gestures.

While the lower cost could benefit any number of amputees, the researchers are looking at bringing these prosthetics to those in nations without access to such care. The next step for this technology is to add a feedback system, so that the user has some feeling of the force the fingers are applying, and where the hand is, without having to look at it.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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