3D Printed Exoskeleton Hand

May 27, 2015 | Engineering

3D Printed Exoskeleton Hand

Michael Molitch-Hou from 3D Printing Industry

While we’ve covered numerous stories about 3D printing used to get prostheses to those in need, including exoskeletons, the field of 3D printed-based human augmentation for the abled community (and disabled community alike) is only just beginning. And Alex Czech, based in Melbourne, Australia, wants to be a pioneer in this field by creating a full-scaled 3D printed exoskeleton. But, before he can create an entire suit, he’s beginning with a 3D printed exoskeleton hand.

alex czech 3D printed exoskeleton hand

Alex tells me that, when he isn’t working in Investor Relations, he has been spending his time on a 3D printable exoskeleton hand, “I was working on designing my own universal joint which developed into the hand. I had the idea to create it because no one else had yet designed a complete exoskeleton that you could 3D print (that I am aware of).” In addition to the screws used to hold it together and metal washers used for strength, the hand is made up of 13 unique parts, some printed multiple times, which Alex fabricated in ABS on his Up Plus 2. In total, the entire hand took 18 hours to print with a material cost of only $8.16, including support material. Altogether, the hand weighs 173 grams.

alex czech 3D printed exoskeleton hand finger claw

At the moment, the hand is in the nascent stages, Alex says, but, really, it’s just the beginning, “Currently the hand is just for looks but the future design will incorporate DC motors. My ultimate goal is to design a complete exoskeleton body suit that can be 3D printed.” So, what might look like a piece of cosplay in the video below, is really a platform for augmenting the human body. You’ll see attachments for the hand, including claws and protective shielding, but such modules open up a new look at human development, often envisioned by transhumanists.

In the industrial world, real attempts at developing exoskeletons are underway, with some firms envisioning the ability to increase the strength of firefighters and soldiers. Though Alex may ultimately release a similar suit, his hand itself could be used for labor of all types. One might imagine a shovel module for landscaping or clearing debris, added fingers/claws for gripping more objects at once, or carabiners for mountain climbing. And Alex’s exo-hand might work in tandem with Onyx Ashanti’s exo-foot. As more stories like Alex and Onyx’s find their way into the public, the 3D printing transhumanist community may start to flourish, paving the way for a very different sort of human evolution than what we’ve seen up until now.

The files for Alex’s hand are available for download, so if you want to beat the rest of us to the next stage in human evolution, you can begin here.