Students from Rice University in Houston Texas have created a device that 3D printed prosthetic hands can grip onto so that the team can measure the force of the hands. The group has given the project a nickname: Carpel Diem. The all-female team initially wanted to create their own prosthetic hands but ended up making a device test already existing hands.
Two mechanical engineers, two bioengineers, and an electrical engineer make up the team that is focusing on creating the force testing device. Amber Wang, a mechanical engineer major at Rice University, said: “What we’re working with is we are creating a force testing device or suite of different devices in order to test 3D printed prosthetic hands.”
Along with a website of volunteer 3D printers named e-NABLE, the team has gone to work to try and refine the way that prosthetic hands grip items. Prosthetic hands were among the inventions that skyrocketed into popularity after 3D printers became known to society.
Wang says, “The prosthetic hand is not absolutely perfect in its function as a normal hand ; the kid will probably discard it and go back to his/her adapted way of using his/her palms before.”
Rachel Sterling, another mechanical engineering major for the team says: “If a kid has to put in five pounds of force to only get one pound of grip, that’s a lot of lost efficiency because of how these hands are designed. Until we reach more efficiency of 100 percent, the hands aren’t going to be useful.”
So, to test the efficiency of these prosthetics they hooked up the hand to a mechanical arm with a motor that pulls the hand in the motion it would be grabbed as if it was on an arm. It is connected to a computer that gives the information of force input and output so that the data can be observed and the limbs can be altered to one day be as efficient as a human hand. According to 3Ders, the device can test up to 60 degrees in any direction.