Who We Are
Digi Digits is an interdisciplinary club of students at Penn State University. We are dedicated to improving, designing, and 3D printing prosthetic-like training devices for children who have hand/arm malformations or disabilities. This club offers Penn State students the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, participate in life-changing research, and expand their knowledge in the growing field of 3D printing as our organization combines corporate and family relations, business, engineering, architecture applications, and more.
Through the organization e-NABLE, Digi Digits establishes safe connections with children in need of a prosthetic training device. We cooperate with the family to develop and print a functional prototype. Our design is then open-sourced, so a final product can be produced and delivered by an official 3rd party like e-NABLE. However, the work does not stop there! After the recipient receives the device, we make sure to continue our relationship with the family as well as offer suggestions for adjustments and improvements to the device.
As a club, Digi Digits aims to provide both physical and moral support to those transitioning into a medically certified prosthetic. Our designs are open source because we believe everybody should have the opportunity to improve their quality of life. We want to “lend a hand” in the biggest way possible!
Identify a problem and brainstorm ideas.
Design using handdrawing and 3D computer modeling.
3D print and assemble.
Test it out and make improvements.
Upon discovering some of Penn State's 3D printers going unused, a group of students began thinking, “What more could we do with these?” With a lot of thinking and researching, they found that simply cosmetic and non-functional prosthetic hands and arms cost around $5,000. Looking further, a fully functional device can cost between $20,000-$100,000. Many prostheses are not covered by insurance, either. When you add the cost of refitting and adjusting the device every time a child has a growth spurt, most families are left with a cost that is simply unobtainable.
With a 3D printer, we are able to print a mechanically operated prosthetic training device, with many useful functions, for less than $60. Because most of the hand is 3D printed, the cost of adjusting the hand is minimal, usually under $10. This offers a child the chance to regain functionality in that arm/hand, while keeping the cost to the family much more reasonable. Furthermore, the club covers the cost of these hands through sponsors and donations, so unless the family wishes to make a donation, the hand is free for them.