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Mechanical Design and Theoretical Analysis of a Four Fingered Prosthetic Hand Incorporating Embedded SMA Bundle Actuators

Authors: Kevin T. O'Toole, Mark M. McGrath


The psychological and physical trauma associated with the loss of a human limb can severely impact on the quality of life of an amputee rendering even the most basic of tasks very difficult. A prosthetic device can be of great benefit to the amputee in the performance of everyday human tasks. This paper outlines a proposed mechanical design of a 12 degree-of-freedom SMA actuated artificial hand. It is proposed that the SMA wires be embedded intrinsically within the hand structure which will allow for significant flexibility for use either as a prosthetic hand solution, or as part of a complete lower arm prosthetic solution. A modular approach is taken in the design facilitating ease of manufacture and assembly, and more importantly, also allows the end user to easily replace SMA wires in the event of failure. A biomimetric approach has been taken during the design process meaning that the artificial hand should replicate that of a human hand as far as is possible with due regard to functional requirements. The proposed design has been exposed to appropriate loading through the use of finite element analysis (FEA) to ensure that it is structurally sound. Theoretical analysis of the mechanical framework was also carried out to establish the limits of the angular displacement and velocity of the finger tip as well finger tip force generation. A combination of various polymers and Titanium, which are suitably lightweight, are proposed for the manufacture of the design.

Keywords: Hand prosthesis, mechanical design, shape memory alloys, wire bundle actuation.

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