Combining a Nintendo Power Glove with 3D-printed parts, 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle has designed an incredible robotic prosthetic arm. Made from LEGO bricks, fishing wire, and surgical tubing, LaChapelle’s robotic arm earned him 3rd place in the Colorado Science Fair of 2011 – which inspired him to go even further with the 3D-printed design.
At the Science Fair, LaChapelle encountered an entrant who wore an $80,000 prosthetic arm that would need replacing as she grew. Inspired and intrigued, he decided to take his homemade robotic arm, which could only grip a soda can, to the next level. His new goal was to create a high-tech prosthetic arm that was not only highly functional, but also affordable.
LaChapelle’s new design relies on 3D printing to help offset the high costs of prosthetic technology. The affordable arm is controlled by a Teensy Arduini microcontroller, amplifier circuits and Bluetooth receivers. Movement works by flexing muscles then blinking the eyes to coincide with assigned tasks like hand, elbow or arm flexing, monitored by an EEG headset to control movements by measuring brainwaves.
The parts are all 3D printed using a Printbot aside from the gears, motors and screws, with a total cost of a shocking $250! The astonishing price will make the prostheses available to lower income families, as well as an array of other uses, from bomb disarming to serving beer, as Heineken has already asked the teen to produce 5,000 to serve beer in their bars.
To help amp up production, LaChapelle has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds while he finishes highschool.