The design freedom and quality materials provided by HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solutions allow Prensilia and Elastico Disegno to create a robotic hand called ‘Mia’
In 2012, Prensilia set itself the goal of developing a robotic hand casing that was light, highly functional, aesthetically pleasing and structurally solid to protect the internal mechanical and electronic components of the device.
For this project, Prensilia collaborated with Elastico Disegno to help them overcome the limits set by traditional production methods and other filament-based 3D printing technologies, such as the inability to perfectly adapt the external covers to the shape of internal mechanics, while maintaining exceptional surface quality.
Elastico Disegno chose to use PTC Creo because it is able to design mechanical and anatomical parts in a single environment, thus accelerating development and minimizing the number of components required, flexibly size the product to adapt to any variation of the components, communicate directly with the technical development departments, and simply exchange data with the customer to speed up design operations.
The result of this innovative project is Mia, a robotic hand equipped with sensors and connected to a trans-radial titanium implant (between the elbow and the wrist). The cables and electrodes that connect the muscles and nerves pass through the two bones of the forearm (the ulna and the radius) before reaching the robotic hand, returning the information captured by the fingers and improving movement.
Due to the complexity of most of Mia's components, Prensilia and Elastico Disegno saw additive manufacturing as the only valid technology for this project.
The external coatings of the hand and fingers are made with HP Multi Jet Fusion technology using HP nylon PA 12 material, which combines strength and structural support, as well as a surface finish able to guarantee the desired aesthetics from Prensilia. These components include wearing parts, such as buttons and snap fasteners, which have passed all functionality tests.
The soft parts of Mia's fingertips are made from silicone molds, also made by HP Multi Jet Fusion and Nylon 12. According to Prensilia, replacing metal molds with plastic molds has reduced the investment required and production times, without compromising performance and external finish.
Marco Controzzi, Founder of Prensilia, described their reaction to the final product. “The first time we tried Mia on a patient, the reaction was, ‘How light!’,” she said. “We reached the desired level of robustness thanks to the improvement of the internal mechanics and by 3D printing the external casing with HP Multi Jet Fusion, which allows for the combination of rigidity and surface finish.”
Controzzi also sees the ability to rapidly iterate as a major advantage of HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. “Another important advantage offered by 3D printing to technological frontier products such as ours is the possibility of offering customers updated products,” Controzzi said.
In 2019, Mia received the Red Dot Award, one of the world's largest and most important design awards for product design.
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Note: original case study and photos courtesy of HP
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