If you're in need of a prosthetic hand, the accessibility that 3D printing brings is already an awesome thing unto itself -- giving hope to those prohibited by the high costs usually associated with prosthetics. There are a number of open-source projects around the world now, helping to deliver manual ability to the disabled, particularly children.
But there's another angle allowed by 3D printing that hasn't really got much of a look-in so far: add-ons. Sure, you can have a prosthetic hand -- but why does it need to be shaped more or less like a hand when you could give it 3D printed tentacle suckers, or dragonback ridges -- or detachable Wolverine claws?
As it turns out, the latter is every bit as cool as it sounds -- and we know thanks to a volunteer with e-NABLE, a group which collectively develops open-source designs and creates 3D-printed prosthetic hands for those in need.
Aaron Brown, who is working on opening a 3D-print shop, wanted to build a hand using an e-NABLE base to take to a local children's hospital as well as the MakerFaire in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- a town whose college sports teams are supported by a Wolverine mascot. Brown's course was clear.
"The Comic loving nerd inside of me (along with some Facebook friends) said there is no way I can make a Wolverine hand without CLAWS," he wrote, "So I modelled some in Sketchup the morning before the MakerFaire, printed 'em, spray painted 'em silver and velcro'd 'em on there. Turned out pretty darn cool!"
Brown's hand received an overwhelmingly positive reception at the MakerFaire -- so much so that he is now planning an entire range of superhero-themed hands -- and more.
"I hope to help any way that I can and keep promoting e-NABLE more and more, especially once I open the doors to my print shop," he said.
"In the meantime, I have plans for a few project hands -- like a Military Wounded Soldier themed hand geared toward adults and to promote to Veterans' Hospitals, VWF Groups and American Legion Halls. I also want to do some more themed hands for kids...Batman, Iron Man, Captain America...we'll see!"