Kickstarting a cheap, versatile, sophisticated 3D printed robotic hand

Chris sez,

Chris Chappell and Easton LaChappelle have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of a 3D printed robotics hand. The hand is currently aimed at makers and researchers, but the eventual market will be for prosthetics.

Chris and Easton are primarily focused on dropping the cost of the hand, since current research hands or prosthetic hands can cost £50,000+. The cost of the Kickstarter hand fully assembled is £300 with electronics. They also offer a control glove (based on a nintendo power glove) for an extra £200.

Easton has also been developing a control method based on EEG measurements. Taking the design a step towards being a practical prosthesis. Easton just won the Da Vinci Award at the San Juan Basin Science Fair for his work.

We've mentioned this team's robotics work before. This has all the ingredients of a great Kickstarter: an accomplished team seeking modest funds to make something genuinely great.

3D Printed Robotic Hand (Thanks, Chris!)


  1. I’m very skeptical. This hand is gonna be able to lift only a few ounces, and probably won’t stand up under a lot of strain like most printed components. but if they can drive that price down so low with electronics, it’s gonna put the academics to shame. 

    1. I wonder how much more it would cost to have the thing machined out of aluminum or something so it doesn’t break right away?  Plastic 3D printers are cool but kind of suck for moving parts.  Whatever actuators they’re getting for $300 are probably going to be pretty bad/weak too.  Still, if this could be leveraged to jumpstart a $1,000 useful version.

      1. The labor is the real cost here. Probably a couple hundred hours of machining per hand, considering all the individual parts, which drives the price up super high. It’s great to see someone trying as a proof of concept, even if the actual product is going to be more or less useless, but the convenience of  materials sacrifices a lot of actual usefulness.

    2. “A few ounces” could cover a lot of things that are useful to grasp in everyday life–utensils, writing instruments, remote controls, books, phones, etc. Most people don’t actually need to lift heavier things very often, I think, and a person with one of these could be aware of the weight limits and switch it for something less dextrous but more sturdy when needed.

      1. A few ounces makes it as effective as one of those pincer-type prosthetics. I used lifting strength as a benchmark because it’s a clear comparison, but the fingers also have to exert sufficient force to hold things between fingers. I doubt these will. 

        Also, there are much more advanced hands like the Shadow hand that, while expensive, still can’t come anywhere close to the dexterity of the human hand. The hand above is probably 5 years from application to prosthetics. Again, it’s great that these dudes are doing this and selling it with the prosthetics angle, but the reality is, it’s not going to be suitable for that purpose.

    3. Remember, you’re talking about something for PEOPLE WHO DO NOT HAVE A HAND. A robotic hand that can be used to help put on clothes, eat food, tie shoes, hold phones, etc. could be life changing even if it’s not as capable as a much more expensive hand.

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