South African carpenter Richard van As suffered a woodworking accident and lost four fingers on his right hand. But instead of accepting his new disability he decided to create a set of mechanical fingers to replace his lost digits. After two years of research, he created the prosthetic Robohand – and he has made the blueprints available to download from the Thingiverse 3D-printed design database.
During his initial research, Richard found that there were no standard prosthetics able to replace his lost fingers, and any experimental technology was incredibly expensive. Instead, he began experimenting in his garage to create a home-made replacement.
Collaborating with an American colleague, who donated two MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers to assist with prototyping, Richard finalized his Robofinger and created a mechanical hand. His design was scripted, and the first Robohand has now been printed in South Africa.
The prototype hand has been fitted to a 5-year-old boy, but in order to continue the device’s development, Richard has launched an Indiegogo scheme to raise funds. Money raised would go towards buying new materials with the goal of presenting Robohand to Congress at the end of 2013.
Robohand has been nominated for the Rockefeller Innovators Award and has been exhibited at the Science Museum of London. Watch the video below to see how Richard created the hand.