Written by IEEE | November 29, 2016
In Paraguay, there are a large number of upper limb amputations due to bad working conditions and motorcycle accidents. Many people are also in the low income category, and they cannot afford the prosthesis. With advanced manufacturing, particularly with the use of 3D printing, a company is able to create sophisticated prosthetics at a low cost.
The company, called PO, has combined 3D printing with a control mechanism to make an arm that can perform specific actions. They teamed up with a company called Myo incorporating their armband that controls the mechanical aspect of the hand. Their armband monitors bioelectric muscle signals and interacts with the prosthetic, allowing a user to grip items and gesture as if the arm was part of their body.
Because the company is using 3D printing to build the hands, the cost of the prosthetic is much lower than a traditional one. Incredibly, they can make 100 3D printed hands for the price of one prosthetic. While there is still a cost associated with fittings and the components, much of the price is covered by private donations. The technology behind the project is opensource so that other people can work to make an innovative product that can help people around the world.