By Kira | 3Ders.org
Steve Wood, the mechanical CAD design engineer behind UK-based Gyrobot Ltd. is quickly becoming a legend in the world of 3D printing, thanks largely to his game-changing Flexy-Hand concept, the most advanced and realistic prosthetic hand available to date.
The original Flexy-Hand was released in March 2014, and an improved version, Flexy-Hand 2, came out in July, receiving very high praise from fellow CAD designers, as well as those actually in need of prosthetic aids. Now, just six months later, Wood has again revolutionized the 3D printed prosthetic world with his latest design, the Flexy-hand 2 – Filaflex Remix.
What made the Flexy-hand so unique was his use of Filaflex filament, a material that allows you to create flexible, elastic 3D printed objects. This gives the hand a more realistic look and feel compared to the generic and more “robotic” prostheses we are used to seeing.
The Flexy-Hand 2 - Filaflex Remix featured many key properties, such as a gauntlet attachment with Filaflex hinges, a sculpted palm socket, discrete internal tendon channels and adjustable tensioners. The latest iteration, has even more groundbreaking features, including:
A strong, thermoformed gauntlet, made of dual materials: PLA on the lower layers and Filaflex on topA palm socket that is integratl to the hand and can be filled with moldable mediums, such as Oogoo, Silicone, Latex, Sugru or FoamEach finger and thumb printed in one piece using CraftWare customizable supportsCompletely silent articulation with the finger and joint movementsThe recipient’s scanned limb is printed with an internal ‘bone’ and wrist articulation using variable density ‘modifier meshes’ in Slic3r.
In addition, the new version was optimized to be printed with flexible filaments. Wood used the Skin I Filament for the example above, but notes that that the darker coloured Skin IIis also available, giving end-users the ability to choose which shade more closely resembles their actual skin-tone. This is certainly one of the greatest advantages, as it makes the hand look as realistic as possible and allows those with prosthetic limbs to blend-in and feel more natural. Even though it’s purely an aesthetic choice, as some are happy to show of futuristic, cyborg-esque designs, beauty of 3D printing is that it is purely customizable, and gives each individual the power to choose exactly what they want.
The design is available for free on Thingiverse, and has the potential to greatly improve the lives of those in need of prosthetic hands. In fact, Wood is currently a member of e-NABLE, a worldwide community of volunteers dedicated to following the growth of the “3D mechanical hand—maker movement.” Their goal is to improve the lives of those in need either by helping to 3D print parts, creating completed devices, or simply providing the resources, such as the designs for the Flexy-hand 2 “Remix”, so that they can modify and build a prosthetic for themselves. Most of their projects are geared towards children, as shown by The Cyborg Beast or the Limbitless Arm, however the sleek and aesthetically pleasing design of the Flexy-Hand 2 is sure to be appreciated by users of all ages.
Along with revealing three groundbreaking iterations of the Flexy-hand in under one year (and one"Halloween" edition), Steve Wood also released a 3D printed custom insole, which we covered in December. In addition, he runs Gyrobot, which specializes automotive, aerospace, nuclear fusion, design and CNC programming, and owns and manages an FDM 3D printing company. With that much talent and dedication at his fingertips, Wood and is growing list of accomplishments are nothing short of inspirational. And at this rate, it might only be a little while before we find out what amazing new project he will reveal next.
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