If you’re an able-bodied person, there are probably a lot of things about your body you take for granted – like being able to pick up pencils and fruit without having to pay $11,000 for a custom-made robotic hand. Sadly, this is currently the reality for hand amputees, who are faced with the choice between prohibitively expensive robotic hands or cheaper but inert prosthetics.
Joel Gibbard hopes to change all that with the Open Hand Project. Using 3D printing, cheap but durable material, and crowdsourced funding, Gibbard hopes to make robotic prosthetic hands affordable for those who want them. The prototype he’s created, called the Dextrus hand, can be pulled together for under $1,000.
The next phase of the project involves securing funding from backers on Indiegogo in order to spend the next year developing new prototypes.
Gibbard isn’t the only one to use 3D printing to create inexpensive prosthetics. 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle, as well as carpenter Richard Van As and special effects artist Ivan Owen, have recently made headlines for their affordable 3D printed movable prosthetic hands. Here’s hoping this catches on and they become widely available in the near future.