Press Package

ROBOHAND –  Just a South African Guy with an Idea.


Robohand creates 3D printed and aluminum CNC machined, anatomically driven, custom fitted, mechanical devices to help limb different individuals as an alternative to standard prosthetics.

Robohand started with Richard van As, when he had a woodworking accident in May 2011 severing all his fingers on his right hand. Straight out of hospital, Richard set to work in researching and developing a finger replacement for himself. He discovered after his accident that prosthetics are not affordable for the lay-man, and there are no functioning replacement digits.

After creating his first few prototypes, Richard contacted Ivan Owen through the internet to ask if he would like to collaborate on the design of a replacement finger for tradesmen. Ivan had created a giant mechanical prop hand so was enthusiastic to join the project.

In September of 2012, Robohand was officially named and the first working prototype was published. The next few months were a whirlwind of research and development and the first aluminum hand was fitted to a very young boy in South Africa.

With the advances in technology Robohand turned to 3D printing as a cost effective, quick way of prototyping. However, when Robohand discovered the potential of 3D printing and the endless possibilities, we looked at re-creating the aluminum hand in 3D print. We were donated two Makerbot Replicator 2, 3D printers to kick start the new vision of Robohand.

Our first successful prototype was published in January 2013 with the design being published open source. There after Ivan left Robohand and Richard continued with the research and development, refining Robohand while focusing on safety of the device, applying the highest grade materials but keeping the device cost effective.

As of November 2013 Richard has streamlined Robohand and fitted more than 200 hands to individuals all over the world. This is possible due to 3D scanning, hard molds and 3D printing. Between January and November 2013, Robohand has launched the Robofinger and Roboarm.

3D printing is the process of extruding layer upon layer of plastic over the same area, building up a 3D composite. Robohand make use of an online platform called Thingiverse where you can download the free designs for Robohand. We published an assembly manual on the same platform for 3D enthusiasts to create their own basic Robohand.

Robohand have worked tirelessly to source medical grade hardware and medical splinting material to ensure the safety of the wearer. This also enables the wearer to bath and swim with the device.

2013 has been a year of great accomplishments for Robohand. Robohand was nominated for the Rockefeller Innovators Award plus we have exhibitions in the Science Museum of London and the Youngstown museum. Our first printed article was done in the Popular Mechanics magazine in February.  Since then, there have been many internet articles including the Time Magazine. We have been in print in the You and Huis Genoot Magazines, and in November we were published in the Brainstorm Magazine. We have been fortunate to be televised on SABC on various shows as well as CNBC. Fox News did an interview with Richard and we were featured on Radio 702 in South Africa and NPR in the USA.

Robohand has just moved into their new office space in Centurion, Pretoria, South Africa.

Please visit our Frequently Asked questions and Robohand Devices page on our website for more information. We are contactable through email on robohand417@gmail.com or through our Facebook page.

Below are some high resolution photographs available for download.

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