From George de Mestral’s historic hike in the woods to today’s talented inventors at Velcro Companies, we celebrate our employees’ ingenuity. Bionic prosthetics may seem like a futuristic goal; however, with perseverance and a dash of our solutions, one employee made this dream a reality.
An IT Employee by Day & A Biomedical Engineer by Night
Sascha Muñoz may seem like your ordinary Senior Service Delivery Administrator for IT, but in his spare time, he’s biomedically engineering his own prosthetic arm.
After losing his arm, Sascha was given a transhumeral prosthetic by the social security in Spain. For these systems, cables are routed throughout the arm to help operate it, while a hook-structure replaces the finger motions to grab items – as a basic solution, the arm lacked dexterity for Sascha.
“It was frustrating because the prosthetic was very rudimentary. After using it for some time, the prosthetic would tend to break, and I started using it less and less.”
He wanted a solution that made more sense for his lifestyle – a prosthetic arm designed with life-like functionality and something that included his love of technology.
Overcoming Challenges & Creating an Accessible Bionic Prosthetic Arm
After researching bionic arms, Sascha realized that the prosthetic arm cost was too high to purchase. He decided to transform this challenge into an opportunity and make one for himself.
Constructed from 3D printed nylon, the bionic robot arm is made of three main pieces: an optical sensor, three servo motors, a nanochip and lastly, that’s where we come in, a solution to hold the sensor in place.
What Makes This Bionic Prosthetic Arm Move?
The optical sensor is key to operating the fingers. It needs to rest on the bicep to detect the tendon’s movement. Once the sensor picks up motion, it will send information to the chip and then operate the fingers.
Sascha needed a solution for the sensor that not only held it in place but was also lightweight.
Immediately he knew that the VELCRO® Brand All-Purpose strap was the perfect solution – as a low-profile and adjustable fastener, the strap is soft enough to avoid skin irritation, while also narrow enough to fit through the sensor’s clasp. The strap can also be adjusted around Sascha’s bicep, which allows the bionic arm to move freely.
The Final Result and Beyond
After starting the project in 2019, spending countless nights welding with one hand, teaching himself how to code, and creating four prototypes, finally, Sascha created an automatic arm.
And what was the first thing he picked up when it was complete? – A well-deserved beer.
After much thought, Sascha is planning on automating the wrist and elbow. He also wants to create a silicon glove, which will add more traction to his grasp.
“It’s an achievement to have a bionic arm made by me.”
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