Amputee bonds with son thanks to 3D printed hand

Danny Florence lost both legs, a hand and most of his fingers, after contracting meningitis at the age of 5. For 21 years he managed adequately with one hand, but when Danny became a father, he realised it had an impact on the bond he had with his son.

Danny was fitted for a 3D printed Hero Arm, produced by multi-award-winning designer and manufacturer of affordable prosthetic limbs, Open Bionics.

Danny said “I’ve been very excited and it’s better than I imagined. Seeing the arm – you get an overwhelming sense when you first see it. I then got to try it on, and, like magic, I got it to work pretty much straight away. It’s amazing. It’s very smart. Previously I’ve had a very ugly static hand, and this is a very, very nice-looking hand.”

Bionic arms such as the Hero Arm work by picking up signals from a user’s muscles. When a user puts on their bionic arm and flexes muscles in their residual limb just below their elbow; special sensors detect tiny naturally generated electric signals and convert these into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movement. The Arm has up to six different grips, and these are grouped in pairs to make switching between them quick and easy.

Global DC drive manufacturer, maxon, worked with Open Bionics to design and produce the actuator for the fingers in the Hero Arm. Each digit uses a maxon DCX 12 L motor. The actuator consists of a DC motor driving a customised gearbox and lead screw and nut, developed for the speed of each user.

Danny explains “I wanted to get a Hero Arm a few years ago, but I decided at the time that I managed OK. But then, when I had my little boy, I realised there was a lot I couldn’t do, and that led me to actually do something about it. I started a Go Fund Me page. Many, many companies raised money - and many individuals - and for that, I’m always going to be grateful. Eventually, maxon got in touch and advised that they were going to sponsor it. That call was surreal. I’ll never forget it.”