An all to common sight in any warzone, landmines have exploded under more than 1 million people since 1975. According to Unicef, 800 people a month are killed by them. Those that don’t perish are often seriously maimed, losing limbs in the process. This is where Roboleg comes in.
The name might sound familiar – it’s made by Robohand, the South African company that creates 3D printed and aluminium CNC machined, anatomically driven, custom fitted, mechanical devices to help limb-different individuals as an alternative to standard prosthetics. They also make their designs available as open source plans for 3D printing.
With the design for low cost hand prosthetics pretty much sorted, Robohand has turned its attention to another functional, low cost mechanical appendage – the Roboleg.
Before embarking on this new project, the company did a bit of research, and found that traditional prosthetic legs have two main problems: they aren’t comfortable; and have limited functionality, the ankle doesn’t respond naturally.
“With the advances that are taking place in the medical field, specifically biomedical engineering, the inventions around prosthetics have moved to myoelectric and neuro sciences. As awe inspiring as these advances are and the capabilities that they give to individuals who are limb different, Robohand has taken a different route,” the Robohand team explains.
They had a look at how a natural foot and leg work, and modelled their 3D printed prosthetic on that design.
“Using the current technologies like 3D printing, Robohand have gone “back to basics”. Taking the biology of how a foot, an ankle, knee and leg all work simultaneously and mimicking that into a comfortable, functional, low cost mechanical leg.”
Robohand was created by Centurion based carpenter, Richard van As, after a woodworking accident left him without fingers on his right hand. On Roboleg, van As says that the current version is still being tweaked. “The prototype is still a work in progress and pneumatic press tests need to take place. It will be some time before we can measure and fit the solution.”
And since amputees aren’t limited to South Africa, the team travels the world in search of people that they can help. Currently, a group is in war-torn Syria where van As has set up a Robohand clinic to help the population.
“Unfortunately the death toll is rising daily. I am incredibly proud that he undertook this journey during this volatile time in Syria to teach some of the doctors how to make and fit Robohands. He took Robobeast for the clinics that they are setting up. Enable one to enable many!” the company posted on their Facebook page in April.
If you would like to help van As and Robohand, you can donate to the company’s efforts to get more prosthetics out through PayPal by clicking here.[Source, Image – Robohand]