Maker 3D-prints himself a prosthetic flexing fingertip

After Christian Call suffered an injury on the job and lost the tip of his right index finger, he was determined to find a prosthetic. "Initially I was trying to acquire a life-like prosthetic, but none of them actually worked and the price was out of reach," he told Crave. A few years ago, Call might have simply been out of luck, but advances in consumer 3D printers put him on the path to finding a solution.

Call's journey to create a fingertip started on YouTube. He was browsing and came across a video of a massive 3D printer cranking out plastic wrenches. That got him started on a search for a 3D printer of his own. "I had to have a 3D printer," he said. "I felt that with a 3D printer I could explore a whole new level of creativeness." … Read more

'RoboCop' not so sci-fi anymore

When the original "RoboCop" premiered in 1987, the idea of a resurrected man in a machine body battling autonomous killer droids was only slightly less outlandish than the replicants of "Blade Runner" or a sociopathic artificial intelligence in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Flash forward nearly three decades to the "RoboCop" remake. Our protagonist, Alex Murphy, instead of being brought back from the dead, is only critically injured when robbed of his agency, which leads to this popcorn action-flick tackling a different breed of philosophical issues than its predecessor.

While the 1987 version … Read more

Bionic hand lets amputee feel in real time

The problem with robotic hands is that, without nerves, it's impossible to tell how hard you are gripping something. It seems, however, that a solution will soon be available: between research conducted by Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University last year, and new research that has just been unveiled, it seems amputees might soon be able to "feel" with their prosthetics.

A team of scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies (SSSA) in Italy, led by EPFL's Silvestro Micera, have created a robotic prosthetic hand that allows the wearer to feel what he is gripping.… Read more

How 3D printers are changing kids' lives in war-torn Sudan

When Daniel Omar was 14, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. While tending his family's cows, the South Sudanese government dropped a bomb on rebel forces nearby, and the boy lost both his arms. But his first thoughts did not focus on his own misfortune: "I'm going to make such hard work for my family in the future," he told TIME reporter Alex Perry in the spring of 2012. "If I could have died, I would have."

Daniel's story was enough to prompt philanthropist Mick Ebeling, co-founder and CEO of research firm Not Impossible Labs, to head to the Nuba Mountains and meet Daniel in person. Ebeling had already worked on a project using 3D printers to build prosthetics for kids in South Africa. He was so moved by Daniel's plight that he turned to a world-class team of thinkers and doers, including the inventor of the Robohand, an MIT neuroscientist, a 3D printing company in California, and funding from Intel and Precipart, to see how they could help Daniel and kids like him. He called it Project Daniel.… Read more

3D printing looks promising for prosthetic-eye production

We've seen how 3D printing can help those who need fingers or limbs, even duck appendages.

UK-based Fripp Design has been working on 3D-printed prosthetic eyes, whose production time and cost are greatly reduced when compared with traditional manufacturing methods.

In collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, Fripp Design has developed batch production that turns out up to 150 artificial eyes per hour, making them far cheaper than handmade versions. … Read more

Bionic limbs will one day sense the grass under prosthetic feet

It sounds like something straight out of science fiction: artificial limbs that not only move, flex, and feel like their flesh counterparts, but also respond directly to one's thoughts and even translate sensory feedback -- the feeling of grass beneath one's feet or the sensation of a limb floating in space -- straight back to the brain.

Thanks to an aggressive push in funding from the US military in an effort to the improve the lives of injured veterans, those advancements are no longer such farfetched dreams. While the idea of "Blade Runner"-level prosthetics is … Read more

Legoleg: Woman builds self a prosthetic leg from Legos

Christina Stephens has been chronicling her journey from a foot crush injury through amputation and adapting to a prosthetic leg on her Facebook page, Amputee OT. While her standard prosthetic leg is custom made and fitted to her, she's also willing to experiment a bit, as shown by her Legoleg, a prosthetic leg crafted from Legos.

Stephens, an occupational therapist and clinical researcher, got the idea from a research lab co-worker, who joked she should make a leg from Legos. Most people would have laughed and left it there. Stephens laughed and went home to make it happen.… Read more

Disabled duck gets new 3D-printed foot

When he was born in a high school biology lab last November, little Buttercup wasn't like all the other ducklings: His left foot was turned backward, making getting around a bit of a trial for the little guy. Although his caregiver at the school worked on turning the foot around the right way, it couldn't quite get there.

So when he was transferred to Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn., new owner Mike Garey realized pretty quickly that something had to be done.

"With his deformed foot, he would have been in pain and had constant cuts and foot infections walking on the side of it even at our sanctuary here, and foot infections on these guys is always a serious matter," Garey said. … Read more

Poll: Would you go full cyborg?

It's only a matter of time, really. Google Glass, Epson's Movierio, the Oculus Rift, and similar technologies are at the cutting edge of wearable technologies. Sci-fi has certainly given us a glimpse at the potential future: internal links to the Internet, augmented eyesight and hearing, perhaps even full cybernetic bodies to house our minds.

We'll have the technology, we will build it. The question is, presuming it's safe, would you embed yourself with technology?… Read more

3D-printed Robohands help kids without fingers

People who have lost fingers can try to get robotic hands that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Or they can try to 3D-print their own hand.

That's what Richard van As did after a woodworking accident in 2011 cost him four fingers. The South African carpenter decided to build his own fingers from hardware store parts but eventually turned to 3D printing.

Using a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer, he collaborated with Ivan Owen to create a prosthetic finger after much trial and error. They've since printed hands for four South African children who lack fingers. … Read more