3D-printed Robohand gives people limbs

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

robohand kid
Dylan Laas is one of hundreds of people who’s received a Robohand. “It looks cool,” he said. “It makes me look like Darth Vader.” May the Force be with you, Dylan.

When carpenter Richard Van As was working with a circular saw, he made a wrong move and accidentally cut off four of his fingers! Unfortunately, he did not have tens of thousands of dollars to buy a special prosthetic limb that works with his muscles, so he set out to build his own. “After my accident, I was in pain, but wouldn’t take painkillers. I barely slept, and the more pain I had, the more ideas I got,” he said. “Sometimes you have to chop fingers off to start thinking.” Van As was searching the web when he came across a video instructing viewers on how to build a mechanical hand. Van As immediately contacted the designer, Ivan Owen, and the two invented the Robohand.

The Robohand uses a combination of screws, 3D printing, and a special material called thermoplastic – which changes its toughness depending on the temperature. The final product was a hand-like device that can grip and rotate similarly to our natural ones. At $500, the Robohand only costs a fraction of what other prosthetic limbs amount to! However, Van As didn’t just make a hand for himself and stop. Instead, he’s focused his energies into making Robohand available to handless people around the world! This includes children who suffer from a birth condition known as Amniotic Band Syndrome, where they are born without parts of their limbs.

He’s received a ton of donations from people in the world, including thousands of dollars and 3D printers. “I said I’d do about 100 hands then disappear, but it keeps going,” said Van As. “How do you say no?” Eventually, he wants to make an assembly of kits that can be bought in stores! He just has to wait for the designs to be patented.

Images courtesy of Robohand Facebook.