Myoelectric signals can be used to control prostheses or exoskeletons as well as robots, i.e., devices assisting the user or replacing a missing part of the body. A typical application of myoelectric prostheses is the human hand. Here, the development of a low-cost myoelectric thumb is described, which can either be used as an additional finger or as prosthesis. Combining 3D printing with inexpensive sensors, electrodes, and electronics, the recent project offers the possibility to produce an individualized myoelectric thumb at significantly lower costs than commercial myoelectric prostheses. Alternatively, a second thumb may be supportive for people with special manual tasks. These possibilities are discussed together with disadvantages of a second thumb and drawbacks of the low-cost solution in terms of mechanical properties and wearing comfort. The study shows that a low-cost customized myoelectric thumb can be produced in this way, but further research on controlling the thumb as well as improving motorization are necessarily to make it fully usable for daily tasks.
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