Design and Analysis of a Body-Powered Underactuated Prosthetic Hand

Hun Chan Lee, Purdue University


As affordable and efficient 3-D printers became widely available, researchers are focusing on developing prosthetic hands that are reasonably priced and effective at the same time. By allowing anyone with a 3-D printer to build their body powered prosthetic hands, many people could build their own prosthetic hand. However, one of the major problems with the current designs is the user must bend and hold their wrist in an awkward position to grasp an object. The primary goal of this thesis is to present the design process and analysis of a mechanical operated, underactuated prosthetic hand with a novel ratcheting mechanism that locks the finger automatically at a desired position. The prosthetic hand is composed of the following components: a frame for the hand and forearm, ratcheting mechanism, finger mount, rack, pawl and stopper for ratchet, cable, springs, rigidly supporting finger and a compliant finger. The compliant finger was manufactured using shape deposition manufacturing. The joints of the finger were made using PMC 780, polyurethane material, and the finger pads were made of Polydimethylsiloxane(PDMS). To estimate how a compliant finger behaves on the actual system with the ratcheting mechanism and how much force is required to operate this finger, the preshaping analysis was conducted. The preshaping analysis data was verified by loading and unloading weights to the tendon cable and taking pictures of the finger each time the cable force was varied. Then, the pictures were processed using MATLAB image processing tools to calculate joint angles. Additionally, the contact force analysis was performed to determine the effects of the contact location and finger joint angles on the magnitude of contact force given the tension of the cable. Using the contact force analysis, it would be possible to estimate how much load the hand can hold. Finally, the hand was tested to hold various shapes of objects to prove how well it can grasp. Based on the experiment, the hand had a higher success rate of grasping objects that are lightweight (less than 500g) and cylindrical or circular shaped.




Cipra, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering

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