A team of students from the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design has developed an innovative and cost-effective solution for individuals who have lost fingers. The student-designed prosthesis, called Lunet, is a 3D-printed device that can be assembled using open-source plans. Unlike traditional prostheses, which can be complex and expensive, Lunet is simple and inexpensive. This makes it more accessible to amputees who may not have adequate medical insurance coverage for such devices.
The inspiration for Lunet came from a woman who had lost three fingers due to frostbite. Undergraduate student David Edquilang and his mentor, Assoc. Prof. Jeff Feng, wanted to create a wearable aid that was durable and affordable. The resulting prosthesis is made from polylactic acid and thermoplastic polyurethane plastics, making it both lightweight and flexible.
The Lunet consists of five main components: a hand plate, a wristband, and three fingers. These components can be easily assembled without the need for adhesives or special tools. Each finger is comprised of four articulating sections connected by plastic pins and an internal linkage bar. This design allows the fingers to move up and straighten out or curl inward in response to the user’s movements. Additionally, the fingers can bend backwards to prevent breakage under pressure.
One of the key features of Lunet is its adaptability. Each finger can be customized to fit an individual amputee’s anatomical dimensions and replace any combination of lost fingers. The modular and configurable nature of the prosthesis ensures that it can be tailored to meet the needs of each recipient.
Edquilang plans to refine and release updated plans for Lunet on his website by December. This will allow individuals to access and create the prosthesis using the specifications that best suit their requirements. The open-source nature of the plans also promotes collaboration and the sharing of improvements within the prosthetics community.
The name “Lunet” symbolizes the relationship between the prosthesis and the user’s residual finger joints. Just as a small moon orbits a planet, Lunet’s fingers partially orbit the amputee’s remaining finger stumps. This innovative design allows for greater control and dexterity when grasping and releasing objects.
The introduction of Lunet addresses the need for more affordable and accessible prosthetic options for individuals who have lost fingers. By utilizing 3D-printing technology and open-source plans, the team of student designers has created a solution that has the potential to transform the lives of amputees around the world. With Lunet’s modularity and configurability, each prosthesis can be tailored to meet the unique needs and anatomical dimensions of the user.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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