Thursday, January 2, 2014

prosthetic hand: milwaukee

I know I've posted the video above on my blog before, but it has been of even more interest to me in the last few weeks. Around Christmas, a call went out on the Milwaukee Makerspace Google Group asking if someone would be interested in helping a young girl's Christmas wish come true. The mother of the young girl had contacted Pete Prodoehl and he had put it out to the group to see if there was interest. This is the message that Pete received.

I have an 8 (almost 9) year old daughter that was born with a partial palm, a 2 digit thumb and no fingers on her right hand. ... My daughter saw a YouTube video about 3D printed hands about a month ago and asked for one from Santa. I have been looking into trying to figure this out since, but it is way above my head! I'm a part-time preschool teacher and full time mom. Not an engineer. After Googling about 3D printed hands (robohand, etc) I came upon E-Nable, and that's where I meet up with Nick Parker. He suggested that you may be able (or may know people that can) help me try and figure this out. I hope this is true! As I mentioned, my knowledge in the area of 3D printing is very limited to just what I have read online. My daughter is very excited about the idea of being in on making her very own 3D hand. Any help, direction, information, etc. you can offer would be amazing and go a long way to making a little girl's Christmas wish come true.

My first thought after reading this was, that I just HAVE to find a way to help. This is the kind of thing that I tell my students "we" (as designers and makers) should be doing to benefit people in the world. This kind of bespoke object is the very thing that metalsmiths or craftsmen used to design and create for people in society on a daily basis. And now in this digital age we are able to share information openly, create networks of people, and create a one off custom for an unique and special individual. Helping to make this girl's dream come true has become high on my list of priorities. Numerous people at the MLK Makerspace stepped up with offers to help with printing, materials and even the cost of the hand. I was simply blown away at the number of people who were willing to help. This says great things about the Maker community here in Milwaukee; good people!

Pete put me in contact with the girl's mother and we tried to set up a time to meet so we could get started on fitting a prosthetic hand. I apologized that I would not be able to do this by Christmas, but assured them, that we would get started right away. We continued to talk during the holidays via Google+ and we have now settled on a date to meet for the first time. I am determined to help the family and we will be taking advantage of the University's resources and we will be scheduling meetings with an Occupational Therapists as well. I have begun the research into "how" and "what" and I am currently working on printing a few initial prototypes for us to simply look at during our first meeting. I printed the hand you see above yesterday and I literally ripped it off the build plate and mocked it up with bolts to check out it's appearance. It's a crude mock-up, but it allows me to visualize things. In the next few days I am going to work on the design a bit and see if i can get ready to take some measurements and 3D scans to prepare for our first meeting.

I'm excited to be able to work with this young girl and her family to make sure that they get something that they are pleased with. I hope I am able to meet their expectations and hope that I can in some small way make a difference with the things I create. 

In the mean time, here's another video on some further research conducted by Robohand.


Gary Kramlich said...

Wouldn't it be easier to print the wrist piece vertically? I obviously can't see the whole model, but then you could lose the support for it.

Frankie Flood said...

It would use less material for sure. I was just worried about the stress on the pivot joint and figured having it printed in a longitudinal orientation would be better to prevent de-lamination of the print layers.