Downsizing prosthesis with accurate engineering for more lifelike movement

Published 30 October 2015

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: prosthetics, prosthetic hands

Steeper’s Bubonic prosthetic hand has a range of 14 grips based on human skeletal form

While there’s been a flurry of 3D printed prosthesis stories of late, intricate production grade components are mostly still best left to traditional forms of manufacturing - like this myoelectric prosthetic hand.

Designed by prosthetic experts Steeper, they developed the Bebionic, which is modelled on an accurate skeletal structure and is constructed from an array of components designed to provide the most true to life movements.

Mimicking the functions of a real hand via 14 different precision grips, it enables amputees to engage in a range of activities that would have previously been complex and unmanageable.

The hand has so far helped transform the lives of hundreds of people

Following the success of the original Bebionic, Steeper began to develop a miniaturised version and approached RP Technologies with the challenge to turn around complex parts without compromising the quality using aluminium tooling and injection moulded components.

With the miniaturisation of the original components Steeper had to review the wall thickness on all 9 parts to ensure components were suitable for injection moulding.

One of the main concerns with thin wall sections was flow length over the larger components, with the palm of the hand most affected. The designs specified that TPE was over moulded to an ABS substrate, yet a problem arose because the TPE was so thin it didn’t carry adequate heat to form the chemical bond between the ABS and the over moulding.

After considerate development the engineers at RP offered a solution which met Steeper’s specifications without compromising the component design.

The required modifications were made to the aluminium tooling and new samples were manufactured for approval. Once Steeper had approved the prototype components the design was frozen and they placed an order for over 500 production parts for all 9 components.
Paul Roe, General Manager at RP Technologies commented “It’s been great to work with Ted and the team at Steeper and provide components for such a life changing product. We’ve really enjoyed the technical challenges and our without limits philosophy has meant we’ve been able to supply complex components that fit the customer specification.”

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