3D printed hand assisted exoskeleton device Spiderhand

This summer, Lehigh University in the United States built a Mountaintop project in the research building of the former Bethlehem Steel Company. Students participating in the project were brought together to freely explore open issues across multiple disciplines. Student Daniel Levy is part of a team that includes teammates including Jeff Peisner, Elena Ramirez, Emily Macmillan and Nan He. These four people have participated in such activities last year, and their goal is to develop a variety of exoskeleton devices that can assist the body to recover. So far, the team has created four such devices, one of which is called Spiderhand. This design was inspired by Levy's personal experience.

“When thinking about what to do this summer, I thought of a device that could help my friends,” Levy explained. “One of my teammates, who is also my best friend’s brother, for a few years. I suffered from spinal cord injury and I have been working hard to restore my hand function. What is most memorable is that this is also my main motivation for this project. I used to say hello to him when I saw him. All he can do is lift His hand came to me with a "top punch (that is, two people clenched their fists together)."

Last summer, Levy studied the fixed tendon movement, which uses the flexibility and extension of the wrist as a mechanism to move and curl the fingers. Levy hopes to build a device based on this to help users with insufficient hand strength. Grab an object. This is the origin of Spiderhand. Levy introduced his design ideas:

“I noticed the movement of the wrist up and down. When I lifted my wrist, the distance between the forearm and the first joint of the finger decreased. This reminds me that maybe I can connect my wrist directly with my finger with a rod. And designing an organization to push the finger down with the power of the wrist. So I quickly simulated the proposed mechanism in SolidWorks and printed it in 3D within a few hours. I verified my theory. After that, I plunged into the design."


Levy sets three standards for his Spiderhand design: customizable, comfortable and unobtrusive. So far, he feels that he has reached the first two standards, but there is still a long way to go to meet unobtrusive requirements.

“Spiderhand has two ways to customize it. First the metal link can be rotated to adjust the length between the forearm and the finger. Their adjustable range is 2 inches, which makes the Spiderhand suitable for almost every size of the palm and in addition to it. The fingers can be adjusted separately. The second uses flexible ninjaflex material for the finger cots, which can be taken separately, resized and reprinted as needed without the need to print the entire hand in 3D,” he explained.


Throughout the design process, he received valuable feedback from his football teammates. The teammate tried several iterations of the design. After each test, Levy will return to the digital model for modification. Thanks to the efficiency of 3D printing, Levy's team was able to produce a highly developed prototype within the 10-week timeframe set by the Mountaintop project, which of course benefited from the $1,500 budget provided by the project and the convenient equipment on the project site. .


“The Mountaintop project offers several Makerbot Replicator 2 and Ultimaker 2 3D printers,” Levy said. “All components except the fingertips were printed with the Ultimaker 2 3D printer, and the fingertips were made of flexible Ninjaflex materials. We use the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, and only it can print Ninjaflex material. In order to increase the strength, some parts are set to 100% filling rate when printing, which makes the total printing of each part together 18-20 hours."


This form of assistive prosthesis is very helpful for patients who are not flexible enough. According to China's 3D printing network, stroke patients or those suffering from spinal cord injury often recover from their torso. In other words, these patients will first restore the shoulder's ability to exercise, then the elbows, wrists, and finally the fingers. There are many people who may never be able to recover their fingers. And Levy hopes that this device will help these people to live more comfortably. He says:

“Spiderhand has two main uses. The first is to use the function, the device can help the fingerless user to pick up the object. The second is to use it in family rehabilitation, the user can wear it and repeatedly move the wrist, this kind of rehabilitation activity It can help reshape the nerves to establish new connections with the brain, ultimately achieving the goal of restoring physical health."


Levy hopes that their design will attract public attention, so that more people in need can get help from Spiderhand. He also puts his design files on the Internet to share with everyone, anyone can download it for free, and Print out a Spiderhand yourself (click here: http://download the design file).


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