Homebrew prosthetic finger seeks funding

Ivan is a American cosplayer who invented a useful and detailed mechanical hand. His demonstration video was viewed widely, and he was contacted by a man in South Africa who had lost his fingers in an industrial accident and could not afford the prosthetics in the market. He asked Ivan if they could collaborate to create a design for low-cost, home-made replacement prosthetic fingers. Now Ivan is looking to raise $5,000 to fund the work.

They mention that the plans are intended to be "open," though they don't promise to use any particular license or to refrain from patenting it. However, this earlier design from the project declares that "All of the information and design contained in this write-up is open and available to the public to be used freely."

Update: Ivan Owen, co-creator of the prosthesis, sez, "thank you for pointing out that Rich and I had failed to include a promise on our main site. That has now been rectified. We have absolutely no intention of patenting the device. Ever. Both he and I are tired of how business has been, in some cases, a hindrance to the development of solutions that can help others. The technology to create what we're making has been around for almost 200 years. The fact that it's still such a widespread problem with so few solutions is maddening, and we want to do whatever we can in our power to change that."

His hand was a hit at NORWESCON and within weeks, the silly little Youtube video he had created to share his awesomeness was getting thousands of views a day.

Little did we know that this would not only lead him to getting numerous orders for pairs of these mechanical hands from fellow goofballs that love to dress up and be a little crazy too, for a director of a play, a plastic version for a team of scientists at UCLA and a major Robotics company…but that one day he would get an email from a man named Rich in South Africa who was curious to see if Ivan could help him find a way to figure out the design he had been working on to restore two of the 4 fingers he had recently lost on his right hand due to a woodworking accident…after looking into a few prosthetics and researching the Xfinger design and being told it would cost him up to $10,000 (US Dollars) per finger…he knew he would never be able to afford this and wanted to design something on his own.

Change The World? (Thanks, Weston!)


  1. Almost everyone I have met that is missing fingers says it was woodworking indecent.  If I did woodworking I would probably do lots of measuring before 10am and then not start cutting until I had a few caffeinated beverages.

    1. There are two big keys to safety: never lose that healthy fear of powered equipment, and always make sure the equipment and work area are in good order before turning on the power.

      1. there are also a few things you need to be shown never to do. Machines can and do bite if not treated with respect.

  2. Ivan is scheduled to fly over to South Africa to meet Richard for the first time in person (right now they are working together via skype from 10K miles away) in November.

    We have started a blog here:

    And his wife will be posting video updates every day while they are together working – to show progress and watch their minds work. 

    Feel free to follow along on their incredible journey and get updates as they work toward getting these into the hands of Soldiers, accident victims, and people that have lost their fingers due to disease or birth defects. :)

  3. Howdy! This is Ivan, one of the two fellows who are developing the design.

    First, thank you, Cory Doctorow, for posting this! A quick response to one of your points: Richard and I are fully committed to providing all of our designs to the public for free. I’m coming on here to officially promise this :) We’ll be putting up a post to that effect on our blog as well.

    From the beginning Rich and I have been in agreement that this sort of knowledge should be shared freely due to its potential to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

    Thanks again and have an awesome day!

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