The Washington Post

Man prefers $50 3-D printed hand to $42,000 prosthetic

A 53-year-old man born without a hand says his $50 3-D printed “Cyborg Beast” works better than his $42,000 prosthetic.

Jose Delgado Jr. was born without most of his left hand. By the time he found Jeremy Simon, he’d tried many types of prosthetic devices, most recently a $42,000 myoelectric prosthetic hand that uses muscle signals in the forearm to control finger movements.

Simon is a self-proclaimed “tinkerer” who volunteers for e-NABLE, which provides inexpensive assistive technologies to underserved communities.

With a 3-D printer and $50 worth of materials, Simon made Delgado a hand that Delgado says makes his life easier, especially at work, where he often lifts and moves boxes.

The 3-D printed hand, a model known as the Cyborg Beast, gives him 10 movable, functional fingers, whereas the old hand, which looked more real, only allowed him to grip things with two fingers and a thumb, Delgado said in a video interview posted on YouTube.

Delgado also said driving and carrying bags is easier with his new hand. Another bonus is that if the hand breaks, it can be replaced cheaply.

“This is obviously not an ‘apples to apples’ comparison in terms of the devices but the real value of a prosthesis comes from how useful it is on a day-to-day basis,” Simon wrote in a YouTube post.

Simon’s YouTube post explains how the hand works:

There are a series of non-flexible cords running along the underside of each finger, connecting to a “tensioning block” on the top rear of the device (the “gauntlet”). The tension is caused by bending the wrist downward. With the wrist in its natural resting position, the fingers are extended, with a natural inward curve. When the wrist is bent 20-30 degrees downward, the non-flexible cords are pulled, causing the fingers and thumb to bend inwards. A second series of flexible cords run along the tops of the fingers, causing the fingers to return automatically when tension is released.

The experiment is ongoing. Simon plans to print another hand for Delgado using Bridge nylon, which is stronger than the ABS plastic (the stuff Legos are made of) used in the first hand but still lightweight. Simon and Delgado will also try a new thumb that allows for a different grip.

“I believe that 3D printing is a transformational technology.  Jose’s experience is a great example of that,” Simon wrote on his blog.

You can find links to the model Simon used for the hand along with instructional videos on his blog.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
It's in the details: Five ways to enhance your kitchen makeover
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Border collies: A 'mouse trap' for geese on the National Mall
Play Videos
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
What you need to know about Planned Parenthood
Play Videos
How to save and spend money at college
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Terrence McCoy · April 23, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.