3D Printing Your Own Limbs

Did you lose your pinky finger in an accident, so you can no longer hold your phone in your damaged hand and play Sloto Cash?  Well, your dreams are finally coming true.

The star from Nerdforge was in this EXACT situation, and so she 3D printed her own finger and talks all about it in her video “I lost my finger … so I made a new one“.  So check out her video and see her new finger.  And it is not just any finger.  It is a finger that even your friends who have all of their fingers will be jealous of.

Nerd Forge

If you have never checked out any of Nerd Forge’s videos, you have to check them out.  She is not just an artist.  She is an engineer.  So if you love engineering and you love art, you are going to love her videos.  She is one of the few YouTube channels that I have actually thought about sponsoring on Patreon.

Martina and Hansi are the couple who create Nerd Forge.  He is the videographer, and Martina is the one who creates the art.  Martina is the one who lost her finger using a table saw while during some home improvements.  So kids, when your parents tell you to stay away from “the power tools” without supervision.  They are not kidding and it does not have to do with you being a kid.  Martina was an adult when she lost her finger and works with table saws in her profession, and she still managed to cut off her finger.

But anyway, Martina shows how she designed and created her new finger using a 3D printer and all her artistic charm that she has.  How many people can honestly say that they have a light in their pinky?  Or have a hand that looks like a Terminator hand?  Not many.  She is awesome with her combination of technology and art.  So even if you do not need a new finger, her videos are definitely worth checking out.

But for the record, she does not have the full functionality of a real finger.  She can now hold a phone and play Sloto Cash.  She can hold her hand in a cup and catch crumbs and other small items in her hand.  But she cannot use the finger to type the letter “a” (no muscles in the finger).

The movement of the finger is done with the movement of the rest of the hand.  So if the action is part of a whole hand movement (holding a phone, making a cup in your hand) she can do it.  But if the movement needs specific control of that specific finger (typing the letter “a” on the keyboard), she cannot do with this design.

But Martina was not the original designer of this project.  She started from the original design of Knick’s Prosthetic Finger project! (which is an ongoing project)

  • Thingiverse
  • Dangercreations

Knick’s Prosthetic Finger Project

Knick’s Prosthetic Finger Projects is designed for people who have lost 1 or 2 fingers.  And it looks like Knick lost his pointer finger, while Martina lost her pinky finger.

In Thingiverse, above, are the files that you would use to 3D print your new finger.  It is “just a finger”.  So if you just want the mechanics, this is where you go.  Martina takes this design and then creates “art” (a glove that can easily be put on and taken off and looks awesome).

The zip file can be downloaded for free.  It contains jpg images, so you get an idea of what the final product should look like.  It also contains the files that you would put into the 3D printer.

Dangercreations – Prosthetics (above) has more information about the project, including how to compile the file and how to measure your finger.

If you have never 3D printed before, there is also information on how to get started.

Side Note: What I said about the muscles and using the finger by itself, depends on how much of your original finger if gone.  The creator of Knick lost less of his finger than Martina did, so he can independently use this 3D-printed finger, while Martina can not.

Ian Davis’s Journey to a new partial hand

As opposed to Knick and Martina, Ian lost all of his fingers.  So he created a design that could “replace” all of his 4 fingers.  He still had his thumb.

Check out the original video on Youtube at: New 3D Printed Partial Hand Prosthetic Design!

Since more of Ian’s hand is missing, the design is more complicated. It includes springs and it has to fit onto his whole hand, but the final design is a functioning hand.

Actually, Ian has done a bunch of different versions for his hand replacement.  Some are mechanical and some are 3D printed.  Check out this YT channel: Ian Davis (“Missing Parts Club”), if it fits.

3D Printing Arms, Open Bionics

The other two were independent people who were skilled in engineering.  If you are not skilled in Engineering, then you might want to get in touch with the company Open Bionics.

The Hero Arm design is for people who lost their arm from the elbow down.  These are professionals, so you go to their clinic, they measure you, and they take care of 3D printing your arm, hand, and fingers.

And these are not the “boring designs” of your grandparent’s generation.  Because they are 3D printed, they can be any design you want it to be.  Do you love Iron Man’s red costume look?  Well, your 3D printed arm can look like that.

Prosthetic Limbs traditionally have cost between $20,000 to $100,000.  But with 3D printing, the cost goes down to around 1% of that cost, $200 to $1000.

Check out the YT video – An Affordable 3D-Printed Arm.

This specific video is about 3D printing an arm for a child.  Open Bionics can now 3D print arms for children above the age of 8 through adults.

The arm itself is completely 3D printed and so are joints between the fingers.  There is a cable that runs down the length of each finger and back into the hand (similar to Martina’s and Knick’s design).  They would normally be connected to a servo motor.  The idea is to trigger the motor via the arm of the person who is wearing it.  The wearer would wear electrodes on their upper arm.  When they squeeze their muscle in their upper arm, it triggers the motor in the lower arm device.  One pulse closes the hand, and other pulse relaxes the hand.

Because the arm also is aesthetically pleasing, for the child, it becomes less about “how did you hurt your arm” and more “what a cool arm”.  This builds the child’s self-confidence, etc.  Children (and adults) do not have to feel like they have to hide their injury.

Open Bionics sells their arms for $300.  Insurance companies typically did not want to pay for traditional prosthetics for children, because they are constantly growing.  Typically, the arm for children would need to be replaced every 6 months.  But by using 3D printing, they can reproduce the arm for around $100.

The original designer first thought that children would want to blend in with other children in order to feel normal.  But then they realized it was much more of a personal identity and expression.  We are all made with the same human body, but each of us chooses different clothes to wear.

The exterior designs are just “sleeves”, so it does change the underlying mechanics to change it.  One child likes Iron Man (boy), but the other child likes the Disney movie Tangled (girl).  Each child gets to be themself … and the adult who is a kid at heart.





One Response to “3D Printing Your Own Limbs”

  • xoxo:

    Such technologies shud be put to meaningful use instead of FANCIFUL ones(wants)?
    It shud be made affordable to accord the needs of the most needy among us.

    As for kids or *young-at-hearts*,they can go drink a *magic portion* to turn them into *SUPER BOYS*???

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