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After a severe bicycling accident in October 2013, Lyman Connor left the hospital with partial blindness in one eye, several broken bones, and a heap of pain. As he rode the elevator down, Lyman tried to cheer up a fellow passenger – a boy with eyes red from crying. Lyman tried to make him smile, pointing to his various casts, and the teenager responded by showing him a stump where his hand should have been. Lyman gathered from the conversation that the boy’s family could not afford to buy an electronic prosthetic hand, which can cost as much as $75,000. So, Lyman Connor, GE engineer and tinkerer, set out to make a less expensive bionic hand in the hopes that he might one day reunite with the boy and win the smile he’d been hoping for.

While Lyman recuperated from his own injuries, he researched the unknown world of prosthetics, taking inspiration from the RoboHand open source project. He learned about wrist design and the electronic circuits that go inside bionic hands from the Michigan Institute for Electronic Limb Development. He then taught himself smartphone application development to make his bionic hand controllable via smartphone. Lyman even taught himself to install micro-circuitry on the prosthetic design.

But then came the problem of creating the part. After causing him much trouble, his old 3D printer had broken. He searched the market for a new one and found the CubePro by 3D Systems. It was then that everything fell into place.

Lyman chose the CubePro because he needed something that prints with very good resolution, is easy to use, and that he could trust to leave for ‘lights-out’ printing. “If I had had this printer to start with, it would have taken a lot of guesswork out of my 3D printing jobs,” says Lyman. “And I would probably be further ahead than I am now.” Lyman says he is ecstatic with the results. “You get quality that far exceeds the price point of the printer.”

Watch the video below to see Lyman’s hand project and hear more about his experience 3D printing with the CubePro.