The availability and cost-effectiveness of functional prototypes and designs has increased considerably over the last decade because of 3D printing. The growing field of biomedical engineering is expanding on 3D-printing technology to make low-cost, upper-extremity prosthetics. This pilot study reports on the potential use of 3D printing for low-cost, upper-extremity prosthetics, specifically prosthetic hands for children. We start by characterizing existing open-source, 3D-printed upper-extremity prosthetics to determine their mechanical strength, statically and dynamically. Based on outcomes from these early tests, we optimize the existing designs to develop a new prosthetic. The prosthetic design, fabricated in The University of New Mexico Orthopaedic Biomechanics & Biomaterials Laboratory, will consist of 3D-printed parts optimized for function, adjustability, and cost effectiveness. The design will be clinically and mechanically tested to assure optimization of all outcome measures. Our goal is that the optimized 3D-printed, upper-extremity prosthetic can be used as an alternative option to the current available prosthetics, superior function, greater adjustability, and adequate strength, all at a lower cost.

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