UW News

February 27, 2015

‘Handathon’ challenges students to build better 3-D printed prosthetic hands

UW News

Seattle’s first-ever “Handathon” will bring together students, faculty and clinicians in a hackathon-style, 24-hour event that challenges two dozen graduate and undergraduate students to design creative improvements to an existing 3-D printed prosthetic hand.One of the 3-D printed hands

Research teams from the University of Washington, UW Bothell and Seattle Pacific University have been designing and printing prosthetic hands, and now they’re hoping a larger community of students can help improve the design with a little friendly competition.

“We are hoping for lots of fun, energy and innovation,” said Kat Steele, a UW assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the event’s sponsor.

About 25 students from the three campuses will be participating in the 24-hour event, which goes from 6 p.m. today until 6 p.m. Saturday on the second floor of the UW’s Mechanical Engineering Building. Professors, clinicians and professionals who design prosthetics and orthotics will be on hand throughout the event to give advice and be a resource for students. The original creator of the 3-D printed prosthetic hand, Ivan Owen of UW Bothell, will also available to advise students.handaton-2

The goal for the event is to make improvements to the hand’s design, ranging from functional changes such as a thumb that enables more movement to innovative, imaginative additions such as a thumb drive placed in the hand’s thumb. Each team will have a 3-D printer to use as well as access to software, tools and electronics for their designs.

Designs that result from the handathon will be uploaded to the open-source community Enabling the Future for others to build upon and further develop.

People are invited to stop by at 5 p.m. on Saturday to watch the last hour of competition and presentations by each team. The audience will vote on the winning design.Handathon-1r

Steele and students in her Ability & Innovation Lab at the UW organized the event, along with Mark Ganter, a UW professor of mechanical engineering; Sue Spaulding, a UW teaching associate in rehabilitation medicine; Pierre Mourad and Owen at UW Bothell; and Adam Arabian at Seattle Pacific University.

See more photos from the event.