Jose Delgado, Jr. is enjoying his newly 3D-printed hand.
Delgado spent five decades using a hook model prosthesis that worked via rubber bands and had limited functionality. Then three years ago he upgraded to his first myoelectric hand which uses sensors that react to muscle movement in his forearm to open and close the prosthetic hand. But even though this was an upgrade it had limitations. Of the five fingers, only three are functional and they just pinch together like the hook hand he once wore. He also found that the hand would be unpredictable and wouldn’t work well in cold weather.
With these frustrations Delgado began to look online for alternatives.
The search led him first to E-enabling the Future, a non-profit consortium of roughly 700 tinkerers, scientists, occupational therapists and innovators all devoted to building and refining 3D mechanical hands for those in need. It was there Delgado got the first glimpse of what would later become his own 3D hand, and where he found Jeremy Simon. (Mashable)
Jeremy Simon sold his 15-year-old security company to launch a 3D printing blog called 3D universe and was also part of the E-enabling the Future organization.
After seeing the 3D printed prosthetic that E-enabling the Future printed, Delgado contacted Simon to see if he could build a hand for him.
The two met and Simon was nervous because the previous hands he had printed and put together were meant for children so this would be his first test making an adult hand.
Simon took measurements and printed the pieces on his $1,200 FlashForge Creator 3D printers, using ABS plastic. The printing took 14 hours and the result was remarkable.
Immediately Delgado noticed how light the 3D-printed hand is compared to the myoelectric model, and how easy it is to work. “When I first put it on [I thought], ‘Wow, I can bend all five fingers,’” says Delgado, who works the hand by bending his wrist. A bend forward closes the hand; unbending opens it up. (Mashable)
Besides improved functionality in the 3D printed hand, there was also a drastic difference in price. His myoeclectric hand cost around $42,000, which was only partially covered by insurance and the 3D printed hand cost $50 in materials (labor and design are not factored in). When Delgado asked Simon how much he owed him for the hand, he said “It’s free”.
After 53 years Delgado says it’s the most realistic prosthesis he has ever owned.