Offering amputees an inexpensive alternative to typically expensive robotic prosthetics, students from the University of Manchester have designed and developed a 3-D printed, robotic prosthetic hand.

With fully posable joints, each of the fingers and the thumb on the prosthetic hand can move and can even make a fist. The prototype limb can also allow the user to manage everyday activities such as using a knife and fork to eat, picking up items, typing and clicking a mouse and opening doors. The robotic hand is even capable of playing rock-paper-scissors.

Although robotic prosthetics tend to be expensive to create (and ranging anywhere from roughly $4,000 to $85,000 to purchase), the Manchester students were able to develop their prototype for just over $400.

According to final-year mechanical engineering master's student Alex Agboola-Dobson: "Not only do we want to make it affordable, we want people to actually like the look of it and not be ashamed or embarrassed using or wearing it. Some traditional prosthetics can both look and feel cumbersome or, those that don't, are extremely expensive. We think our design really can make a difference and we will be looking to commercialize the project in the future."

Another feature of the hand, according to the research team, is connectivity via a blue tooth connection, an android app and muscle sensors that attach to the wearer’s arm.

Alex added: "The functionality is customized through the phone app, but the muscle sensors provide the control by moving the hand whenever necessary. It is really simple to use."

For more on the robotic hand, watch the accompanying video.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com