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Topic: Home-built mechanical finger prosthetic  (Read 10956 times)
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ChainCrafts
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« on: September 11, 2012 06:42:13 AM »



I know... The subject line of this post is a mouthful! There just isn't any other way to reasonably describe this thing Cheesy

I've built a large number of unusual things. This is, however, the most unusual, fun and important project that I've been a part of. In December of 2011, a man by the name of Richard Van As who saw one of my Youtube videos sent me an email with these pictures in it:





He very simply asked if would consider partnering with him to build a mechanical replacement for his missing digits. I was excited to jump in and figure it out with him! The catch: he and I live 10,000 miles away from each other. What ensued was a lot of emails, pictures and drawings sent back and forth, and Skype sessions. Now, after a lot of tinkering, we have our first truly functional prototype:

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PkmHfT_rDf8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

We aren't patenting the design; instead we're giving the knowledge away for free. I thought Craftster might be a good place to share some info on the construction of this device.

Here's a rundown of the parts of our prototype:

The hand mount (A) is made from rigid material and formed to the amputee's hand. The lever arm (D) is attached to the hand mount with an axle at position (I). The passive tension system is attached to the hand at position (F)
The artificial finger is made up of a rigid lever arm (D) to which pulleys (C), a form fitting sleeve (B), hinge (E) and Finger tip with grip pad (G) are attached. A cable runs from the finger tip (G) through the pulleys and  attaches to the hand mount at position (H)

We don't have photos of the complete process yet (mostly because we haven't perfected all the steps, lol Smiley ) but I would like to share with you, at least, the wonders of an amazing material called "thermoplastic"!!!!

To start things off, Rich sent me an exact copy of his hand so that I could have an in-person version of it when building models of our designs on my side of the globe:

It's cast from plastic and very durable (so that when I'm clumsy it doesn't break!)

Thermoplastic, I'm fairly certain, has been imbued with magical properties by some sort of ancient race of mythical creatures. It's more likely that it's just a marvel of modern chemistry.... but imagining it being created magically is more exciting.

This is the first time I've worked with it and it's indescribably useful. You cut out your pattern and then immerse the piece of plastic in boiling water for about 20 or 30 seconds. It then turns into a clear, completely flexible material that can stretch and it even adheres to itself! The amazing part, you can take it straight from boiling water, shake off the excess droplets and then handle it without it burning you. It's not even uncomfortably hot. For some reason it's a terrible conductor of heat, but I digress.


After preparing the thermoplastic, I use the model of Richard's hand to create whichever part of the mounting system I'm experimenting with. Here you can see me forming it to fit around his index finger stump. The flaps at the top are later bent together and then the thermoplastic fuses to itself.


Here I am fusing the flaps at the tip. In front of me is my electric kettle, a measuring cup to hold the boiling water, and a bowl full of ice water. After the part is formed, I immerse the part into the ice water. This cools it rapidly and turns the plastic back into its' high-strength, rigid form.

After the hand-mounts are made, then it's a matter of mounting the other hardware and components to the device & sharing what we've made with each other on our Skype brainstorming sessions. Here's a link to a story on our blog that shows both how we communicate with each other on the project as well as an exciting development! Richard's mind is starting to sort of "feel" with the prosthesis!
http://comingupshorthanded.com/2012/08/24/feeling-things/

On 11/17/12 I will be flying over to South Africa to meet Richard in person for the first time and work to finalize our design! For those that are interested, we will be posting video updates on our progress on the fine-tuned version on the site that I linked to above. Smiley

*!update!*
November has come and gone, and my visit with Rich went very well! Here's a video that summarizes what we did together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyC6_LY7oq0
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012 03:41:50 PM by ChainCrafts » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2012 06:52:50 AM »

What an amazing thing that you are doing for somebody that you don't even know!!!  Bravo for you.

Thermaplastic is actually fun stuff to work with.  My partner needed a brace when she shattered her wrist and they made it from thermaplastic.  I was lucky enough to be given the leftover scraps to work with.

I applaud you.

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chickybiker
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012 07:30:28 AM »

This is AWESOME!!  I'm looking forward to seeing the final product.  And what a way to get a colaboration?  Ain't the internet grand, eh?  Cheesy 

Hope you have a safe journey - on my birthday! Wink

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Taramor
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012 07:31:13 AM »

Whauw! What a great thing to do - and it is very generous af you to give the knowlegde away for free. There must be thousands of people with similar problems.
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012 07:48:37 AM »

That is truly amazing. Posted the video to my Facebook for others to see.
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2012 07:49:54 AM »

What a brilliant device and making it available like this means people who can't afford something like this could  make one for themselves or have a friend make it for them. Especially in Africa.
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2012 07:55:09 AM »

you are so amazing
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2012 08:13:14 AM »

That is awesome!  YOU are awesome both for doing it and for giving the information freely.  I applaud you with as many prosthetic hands and real hands as I can find.  So pretty much just my two hands.
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2012 08:37:02 AM »

This is so exciting! I just featured this project on Craftster's Facebook page. Thanks for sharing. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2012 09:08:23 AM »

This is a truly amazing project! Thank you for sharing it here, you guys are both so awesome
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2012 10:16:23 AM »

This is awesome, in both senses (awe-inspiring, as well as Bill & Ted style)
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2012 10:21:25 AM »

Absolutely wonderful!!!... Great story, can't wait to hear how it goes in November!!
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012 10:56:06 AM »

This is one of the coolest things I've seen on here. Just amazing!
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2012 02:04:29 PM »

this is brilliant and so much brilliant-er that you are sharing your knowledge

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and hitting 'this rocks'
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Alexus1325
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2012 02:15:22 PM »

That is the most incredible thing EVER.
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2012 03:12:27 PM »

You are amazing...as well as kind and generous.  I'm sure you have changed his life forever!
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« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2012 03:29:39 PM »

What a loving thing to do. Your talent is amazing and the fact that you would help someone in need simply because they ask is humbling.
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« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2012 04:33:57 PM »

This is just amazing. No words. I'm hitting "This Rocks!"
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anderlance
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2012 09:21:19 PM »

This Rocks and you do too! What a wonderful journey you and Richard are on!
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CDEeeek
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2012 05:14:53 AM »

This is how innovation and progress should always work. It's the perfect combination of not focusing on how much money can be made, by working together, and thinking way outside the box. You are a kind spirit, and I hope this small amount of praise and acknowledgment you are getting from the wonderful Craftster community is enough to save your place in the history of invention. This has really been a great morning story to start my day, in contrast to the "news" which pretty much horrifies me every day. Good luck to both of you in your endeavors! The world needs examples like yourself and Mr. Van As. 
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« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2012 09:13:48 AM »

This is phenomenal in every way, and your desire to share it with the world just proves what an incredible person you are.

You should put this on Instructables, you're guaranteed to get a huge response, spread the word even more, and you could probably win some contests [if you so chose].
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« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2012 05:50:42 PM »

You make me wish I had gobs of money to throw at you to finance your projects and travel expenses Smiley You are the bees knees, sir!
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Clarachk
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2012 07:17:03 PM »

This is SO worthy of sharing :O) It makes my heart so happy to hear the story behind your awesome project. It fills my soul with glee to learn that you are sharing it so freely. What an amazing gift!!! I will be sharing this with my Book of Face peeps. They will appreciate this and enjoy it immensely.

I now would like some of this Thermoplastic to play with! Your mechanical explanation is really cool. How incredibly thoughtful of you to share such a thing across 10,000 miles and with total strangers for no monetary gain. This is what being human is all about. Art, compassion and connection. I am excited to check out the progress and thank you for the linky-link.
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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2012 02:35:03 AM »

What an incredible piece of engineering and a heart - warming gesture! I heart you!

 Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2012 03:59:07 AM »

Hey, I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for putting this into the public domain. I really hope this approach helps you to create the best possible prosthesis for your friend and that it can help others in the future. My family has had some involvement with the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation and I have had firsthand experience of the importance of affordable prosthetic devices- I've met people for whom their prosthesis is the only reason they can work and therefore eat/provide for their families. With any luck your design could have a similar impact in people's lives, and that's awesome  Grin
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« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2012 12:54:55 PM »

I see that you said you were not going to patent this idea/invention/prosthetic.  I think that it would be a good idea to patent it, only so that the information does remain free and no one else can take your ideas and then patent them away from you.
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ChainCrafts
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« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2012 08:55:24 AM »

Thank you, everyone, for all the kind words and encouragement! Cheesy I'll be certain to share updates on here after Rich and I work together in person in November.

This community is wonderful and I greatly appreciate it. I'm pretty silent on here, more of one of the "watchers", but I love browsing through all the incredible projects that the creative folks on here produce. I can't list the number of times I've come to enjoy and be inspired by the artwork of the craftster community!

So, again, THANK YOU!!! Cheesy

I see that you said you were not going to patent this idea/invention/prosthetic.  I think that it would be a good idea to patent it, only so that the information does remain free and no one else can take your ideas and then patent them away from you.

I appreciate your excellent point and concern. What Richard and I have done to protect the designs from that very real possibility is to release the designs publicly so that they are protected under an IP legal concept known as "Prior Art" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prior_art

By making the designs available publicly no entity, Richard and I included, can claim exclusive rights to the concept Smiley
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white_lilyblossom
« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2012 01:38:38 PM »

That is amazing. To be able to make something like that... It's above art, it's truly a gift. And how wonderful are you, just giving away this knowledge for other people's benefit when you've worked so hard on it.
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« Reply #28 on: September 28, 2012 03:48:33 PM »

it warms my heart to see such crafty altruism. there are too many brilliant ideas locked up from view that could serve so many people, and truly change the world, so i am glad you have chosen to keep the creativity flowing. i hope the generosity of spirit that you two have shared returns to you ten-fold.
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CDEeeek
« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2012 06:12:35 AM »

Saw this article and wonder if this design would help this guy? I don't know how you all would team up, but it sounds like he is a very optimistic person. He lost four fingers. There is a graphic photo of his hand now.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/26/us/idaho-finger-in-trout/index.html
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2012 02:24:31 AM »

Awesome!
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« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2013 06:31:23 PM »

This is the most amazing thing I have seen done on Craftster!! Not only is it crafty but to s your video, The look when he held something the first time on his own grip. THis is truly the most wonderful thing I have seen done here! Taking about crafting for good! You embody that whole philosophy! I hope to see this a a Crafter of the Year!!!
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« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2013 09:14:41 AM »

Congrats!!

You're a Craftster Best of 2012 Winner!

Craftster Best of 2012 Winner

Feel free to use this badge as your avatar!
If you'd like to use it as a badge on your personal website or blog, you can grab the full code at the bottom of this page.
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« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2013 10:19:53 AM »

Congratulations! Well deserved!
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« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2013 10:49:02 AM »

Congrats!!
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« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2013 08:21:47 PM »

Congratulations!! This project (and your updates) are always so special and inspirational. Great to see this featured as a best of!!
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« Reply #36 on: January 17, 2013 07:44:21 AM »

I got goosebumps reading this. Amazing! And kudos for your generosity!!
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« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2013 06:18:22 AM »

Wow! What an amazing project! Best use of a crafty talent imagineable! Thank you for posting this!
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