Man Builds His Own New Hand After Losing Fingers

[CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Engineers can do amazing things. They can build enormous skyscrapers, they can build the fastest cars, or even travel the the Moon and beyond. 

For Ian Davis, however, all he wanted was a new hand after he experienced a terrible accident in his workshop.

So, that’s what he did. 

Gizmodo reported that “in 2017, Davis was diagnosed with a type of cancer known as Multiple Myeloma which can result in a weakening of the patient’s bones. In 2018, an accident in his workshop resulted in broken bones in his hand which eventually led to doctors having to amputate four of his fingers in order to save his life. Davis is left-handed, and the loss of functionality in that hand could have put an end to his ability to design and build things. Instead, while still recovering in the hospital, he drew up sketches for his own prosthetic, and has been improving, upgrading, and rebuilding the mechanical fingers ever since, sharing his progress on his YouTube channel.”

Now he’s got a hand that looks straight out of Terminator and works like a charm, explains Yanko Design.

Relying on his professional knowledge as a mechanical engineer, and taking to 3D printing, Ian embarked on a journey to rebuild his hand and his life. “Being a maker, it was a tough deal,” Ian said as he had to use his hand for everything. Davis even documented the entire process on his YouTube channel through a series of videos that show assemblies, versions, updates, and upgrades. In his latest upgrade, Davis demonstrates the prosthetic’s ability to splay (or spread out) the mechanical fingers… something he says is very rare, if not entirely absent, in commercial prosthetics. The fact that the entire prosthetic limb is engineered from scratch gave Davis the ability to repair and augment his creation, something he wouldn’t be able to do with complex, commercially manufactured prosthetic limbs… especially given America’s strict laws against the “Right To Repair”.

What’s really noteworthy about Davis’ creation is that it’s entirely mechanical and doesn’t rely on electronic components, software, and batteries. In a Reddit thread, he mentioned that the mechanical hand has many obvious benefits over an electronic one. For starters, it doesn’t need charging (and conversely never runs out of charge either), but it’s also MUCH faster than electronic limbs. It takes an average of 0.2 seconds to open or close the fist, as opposed to electronic prosthetics that can take 10 times longer. Let’s also state the fairly obvious in that it even looks absolutely INSANE, with the steampunk metal digits and the tiny #15 industrial chain running through them… as well as the whirring and clicking sounds they make as they move.

It’s a relentless process of trial, error, and improvement for Ian Davis. He started working on the concept back in July of 2019, and slowly and surely built new features into his hand to make it better, with the latest addition being the splaying function. Moving forward, Ian also plans to implement an Arduino with a display to gain individual control of the fingers and some servo motors to advance the design.

“My end goal is to get picked up by one of the major prosthetic manufacturers and design hands for them in their R&D department, creating real-world solutions for partial hand amputees. Durable products that you can take to work and actually get jobs done with. Allowing people to get back to their lives, doing things that they loved before the time of their life-changing accidents”, Ian said.

Davis hopes to inspire and contribute to the larger maker community by sharing his designs and knowledge. He aims to make prosthetics more affordable and accessible to those who need them, by encouraging others to build upon his work and create their own designs.

[Read More: Prehistoric Board Game Found Shocks Archeologist]

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  1. DIY Bionics
    Mass produce kits etc

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