22 May 2014

Robohand’s cheap 3D-printed leg is set to revolutionize prosthetics

3d printed leg

Historically, prosthetic body parts have been hard to come by for many patients around the world. To lower costs and widen availability, a team of people from around the globe have teamed up to create 3D-printable prosthetics under the name “Robohand.” While the initial focus was on hands and fingers, the team has now set their sights on offering a 3D-printable leg at a fraction of the cost of traditional prosthetics. If the prototypes are successful, this low-cost solution could give thousands of amputees the ability to walk again.


Earlier this week, a picture of the very first RoboLeg prototype hit the internet, and the response has been extremely positive. Since then, a 3D model of the finished version (right) has been released, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. There is still a lot of work to be done before it’s safe for humans to use, but the early results are promising. The fitting process still needs to be nailed down, and the assembled prosthetic needs to be thoroughly tested, but the finished product is well on its way to becoming a reality.

Keep in mind, the 3D printer is just being used here to make the plastic parts. The metal rods and pneumatic pumps are made separately through traditional methods. Still, you could theoretically be able to order everything from the internet, and make it yourself. Better yet, hospitals and charitable organizations will be able to make custom legs for amputees in need. That’s what really matters.

The final price range hasn’t been revealed yet, but rest assured that it will be a substantial savings over existing prosthetic legs. A fully assembled Robohand only costs about $500, but traditional prosthetics can cost tens of thousands of dollars. It’s safe to assume we’ll see a similar price gap with the RoboLeg.

If you’d like to dabble with your very own prosthetic limbs, just head on over to the Robohand page at the Makerbot Thingiverse, and start downloading. The plans for the leg aren’t currently available to the public, but seven other designs are available right now for free. If you have access to a 3D printer, take this opportunity to make something amazing.

Image credit: chris.corwin


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