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FAU grad students develop prosthetic hand

Posted at 4:26 AM, Dec 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-02 04:26:57-05

Two graduate students at Florida Atlantic University are literally giving people a hand. They've developed a mechanical hand called the "Bionic Glove."

It's all made using a 3D printer.

Perry Weinthal had one question when he first met Chad Coarsey in a graduate school class.

"Would you like a new hand?" Weinthal asked.

Coasey was intrigued. He was born with an undeveloped left hand, but never used a prosthetic.

"I felt normal in my own skin," he explains.

The challenge from Weitnthal was too good for the bio-medical engineering student to pass up.

They found the basic design for a mechanical hand from an online idea-sharing community called Enabling the Future. 

The hand fits over a person's wrist. When they flex their wrist,all  the fingers in the hand grip. Weinthal says it provides about 70% of the functionality of a real person.

"This allows me to drive, it allows me to carry my smartphone as I'm walking," says Coarsey while wearing the glove.

It costs about $300 to make one bionic glove. Compared the tens of thousands of dollars for other prosthetics which connect to nerves and need electricity to work.

They build the hands using a 3D printer at the Tech Garage and Innovation Center at FAU's A.D. Henderson High School.

It uses plastic filament instead of ink. It works kind of like a hot glue gun, melting the plastic together in precise ways to form the parts of the hand which snap together.

Over the past eight months, Coarsey and Weinthal have modified the hand.

Now, they're launching a foundation called the Bionic Glove Project. Their goal is to provide hands to children.

They gave their first hand to 6-year-old Julian earlier this year.

"It's so heartwarming," Weinthal says. "When you build these, you know you're changing someone's life for the better."

Their goal now is to keep growing and changing lives.