3D Printed Prosthetic Hands Vs. $42,000 Prosthetics


We have heard a lot about the work 3D printers have helped with when it comes to making alternative options to prosthetic limbs and hands. But how do these 3D printed prosthetics compare to the more expensive prosthetics?

Costly prosthetics were once the only option for those who were born without limbs or had lost arms or legs. But thanks to 3D printing, and the open source community, prosthetic limbs and hands are becoming more affordable and more functional than ever before.

To test out the 3D printed prosthetics, 53-year-old Jose visited e-NABLE member Jeremy Simon and asked if he could make a 3D printed prosthesis for him. E-NABLE is an organization that matches children as well as adults with 3D printed prosthetics that can change and improve their lives

Jose, who was born without most of his left hand, had been using multiple types of prosthetic devices for years. He was very familiar with everything that a prosthetic hand should be able to do, which made him a perfect candidate for testing out a 3D printed hand.

Admittedly, Jose said that he didn’t hold much hope –seeing that the 3D printed hand was made using a material similar to the materials used in Lego bricks. Working in an environment that involves a lot of heavy lifting and moving of boxes, he didn’t expect the 3D printed hand to last long, but he was curious enough and eager to try.

To his surprise, Jose preferred the 3D printed hand (the Cyborg Beast) to the $42,000 hand that he had bought just a few years prior. He adds that the 3D printed hand is simple, and more comfortable, all while providing more day-to-day functionality to the more expensive option. He also adds that as a bonus, should a piece break, he could have a new piece printed up in a few hours.

While a typical prosthetic would cost anywhere from $10,000 up, the Cyborg Beast costs less than $50, due largely to the fact that the Cyborg Beast is open source.

Jeremy is now working together with Jose to print a new hand, using a material known as “bridge nylon” which is stronger, as well as more lightweight. Jeremy adds that he will be equipping the new hand with an alternative thumb mount, to enable different grips.