AGH UST students develop biomechanical prosthesis of fingers

AGH UST students are working on a biomechanical prosthesis of fingers for patients after traumatic amputation. The result of their work is meant to be a prosthesis of the future – durable, movable, functional, and first of all, personalised. Thanks to production based on the technology of 3D printing, the model will be cheap, easy to replace, and available to anyone in need. The non-commercial student project is called FingerPrint – AGH UST’s Helping Hand. 

Traumatic amputation of fingers means the reduction of limb functionality, and it is connected with a lot of inconvenience in everyday life, and on many occasions, with psychological problems related to the feeling of exclusion.  FingerPrint – AGH UST’s Helping Hand will be useful to patients after traumatic amputation of one or two phalanges. 

The project of AGH UST students is a complex one: from modelling and construction, through production (printing), to testing. So far, they have developed four prototypes of the prosthesis. In the first one, called Alpha, the levers are made of metal, and the phalanges are mare of polymer. After that, two models with the modification of lever fastening were developed. Currently, a prototype called Coco is under construction. It is a prosthesis for fingers with the loss of two phalanges, mounted on a stump by means of a zip tie.  

Prototype Coco

In the project, the students take advantage of the best software and the support of experts in the field of spatial design. Some selected parts of the prostheses are printed with the use of metal powders. This solution significantly increases the mechanical properties of the prosthesis and enables a longer use of the parts. A few variants of the prosthesis have been developed. Once suitable tests have been conducted, the best solutions will be implemented in the final model. It is planned to test the final prototype on a selected group of patients chosen by a team of doctors from the Ward of Plastic Surgery, Reconstructive Surgery and Burns at the Ludwik Rydygier Specialist Hospital in Krakow.

“Our aim is to create a functional, mechanical prosthesis of the finger by means of 3D printing. We want out prostheses to help people after the traumatic amputation of fingers to return to relatively full physical fitness,” say the authors of the project. “An important objective of the project is a low cost of the prosthesis while maintaining its high functionality. We are trying to achieve this objective by means of applying 3D printing techniques, including FDM printers. Our project is non-commercial – we want the designed prostheses to be as widely available as possible,” they add. 

FingerPrint – AGH UST’s Helping Hand is a project carried out by students who are members of the Special Interest Group of Metals Engineers at the Faculty of Metals Engineering and Industrial Computer Science (field of study of Materials Engineering): Monika Cupiał (coordinator), Filip Kaczmarczyk, Jan Gorczowski, and Łukasz Chudy. 

The supervisor and scientific mentor of the group is Dr Grzegorz Cempura, an assistant professor at the Department of Physical and Powder Metallurgy, and an employee of the AGH UST International Centre of Electron Microscopy for Materials Science. 

FingerPrint has obtained funding in the competition “Rector’s Grant 2021”, and the latest prototype of the prosthesis has qualified for the final of this year’s edition of the Competition of Student Constructions KOKOS in the category “life upgrade”. 

Recently, we have informed about a project aiming to improve the models of impression trays and nasal stents used in perioperative care provided for children with cleft lip and cleft palate.  Both this project as well as FingerPrint demonstrate an enormous potential of 3D printing in the process of developing personalised equipment for the needs of a given patient.