Amputees in need of new limbs are often forced to wait for an extended period of time before taking delivery of their much needed arm or leg. The prosthetic fitting process can take up to three weeks to complete, with impressions, fabrications and subsequent fittings all needing to be done before receiving an artificial limb.
Thankfully, a team of engineers from the WMG research group, the University of Warwick in Britain, and a variety of other companies have come together to create a 3D printed bionic arm. Known as The IMPACT Hand, it can be fully printed and ready to ship within just 10 hours.
The IMPACT Hand, inspired by a similar prosthetic, was invented by Ben Ryan, when his son was forced to amputate his forearm shortly after birth.
The IMPACT team decided to improve on Ryan’s design by embedding silver-based conductive ink directly into polymers bodied hand as its being printed. When the embedded sensors pickup on particular muscle activity in the users arm, battery-powered motors inside the arm are activated, causing the thumb to move in or out or up and down, granting the user the ability to grip objects.
“WMG are delighted to be a partner in the IMPACT project, helping to deliver this innovative and revolutionary technology, which is undoubtedly helping put UK PLC at the forefront of 3D Printing research and development globally,” commented Dr. Greg Gibbons of WMG University of Warwick.
For those interested in purchasing the IMPACT Hand, the team have built a dedicated website where customers can order their custom bionic hand. Buyers simply insert the measurements of their arm and select what colour they want the arm to be. Once that information is filled in, the printing process will begin and your arm will be ready in 10 hours.
Image: University of Warwick