Application of Multi-Material 3D Printing for Improved Functionality and Modularity of Open Source Low-Cost Prosthetics: A Case Study PUBLIC ACCESS

[+] Author Affiliations
Sachin Bijadi, Erik de Bruijn

Ultimaker B.V.

Erik Y. Tempelman, Jos Oberdorf

Delft University of Technology

Paper No. DMD2017-3540, pp. V001T10A003; 2 pages
  • 2017 Design of Medical Devices Conference
  • 2017 Design of Medical Devices Conference
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, April 10–13, 2017
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4067-2
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Low-cost 3D desktop printing, although still in its infancy, is rapidly maturing, with a wide range of applications. With its ease of production and affordability, it has led to development of a global maker culture, with the design and manufacture of artefacts by individuals as a collaborative & creative hobbyist practice. This has enabled mass customization of goods with the potential to disrupt conventional manufacturing, giving more people access to traditionally expensive products like prosthetics and medical devices [1], as is the case with e-NABLE, a global community providing open source prosthetics for people with upper limb deficiencies.

However one of the major barriers to proliferation of 3D printing as a major manufacturing method is the limitation of compatible materials for use with the technology [2]. This places constraints on the design approach, as well as the complexity & functionality of artefacts that can be produced with 3D printing as compared to traditional manufacturing methods. As a result, devices like the e-NABLE Raptor Reloaded prosthetic hand, which is designed specifically to be produced via a single extruder FDM desktop 3D printer, have limited functionality as compared to conventional prosthetics, leading to low active use and prosthesis abandonment [3]. However, with the advent of multi-material desktop 3D printing, and increasing availability of a broader range of compatible materials (of varying characteristics) [2], there is scope for improving capabilities of low-cost prosthetics through the creation of more sophisticated multi-material functional integrated devices.

This work documents the exploration of potential applications of multi-material 3D printing to improve production, capabilities and usability of low-cost open source prosthetics. Various material combinations were initially studied and functional enhancements for current 3D printed prosthetics were prototyped using key material combinations identified. Further, a user-centered design approach was utilized to develop a novel multi-material anthropomorphic prosthetic hand ‘ex_machina’ based on a modular platform architecture, to demonstrate the scope for reduced build complexity and improved dexterity & functional customization enabled by dual extrusion FDM desktop 3D printing. A full prototype was built & tested with a lead user, and results analyzed to determine scope for optimization.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
This article is only available in the PDF format.



Interactive Graphics


Country-Specific Mortality and Growth Failure in Infancy and Yound Children and Association With Material Stature

Use interactive graphics and maps to view and sort country-specific infant and early dhildhood mortality and growth failure data and their association with maternal

Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In