Silicone Model of a Human Hand

For me, the hand is easily the most interesting part of the human body. It is the means that we use the most to modify the environment around us and its functionality is what many say, sets us apart from the apes.

The human hand can perform two types of grips – the power grip and the precision grip. It is in the precision grip that the opposable nature of the thumb comes into play giving us superb control over the use of whatever tool is in our hands, like the threading a needle. In our evolution, this opposable thumb is what has allowed us to make and use tools, something no other creature has been able to do to the extent that we have.

So I have decided to try and make a human hand.

My first attempt has been to copy a brilliant silicone hand model developed by sciencetoymaker. The simplicity of his design can be replicated easily by even those of us (me included) who have very littleĀ  knowledge of human biology, or for that matter are terrible at arts and crafts.

This hand is made from a piece of paper, silicone, plastic drinking straws and string.

Silicone, Paper and String

Silicone, Paper and String

Back of the Hand

Back of the Hand. Left to dry for 12 hours.

Palm & Fingers, Nylon ropes passed through drinking straws act as tendons

Palm & Fingers. Nylon string passed through drinking straws act as tendons

If you would like to do this too, you can view sciencetoymaker’s tutorial on how to make this hand. A short video of my finished product is below. As you can see, this very simple design is very lifelike and its movements are smooth and easy to control.

From the video it is quite obvious that this model of the human hand is only just capable of performing a power grip. This is because the fingers and the thumb only have one degree of freedom – they can only move up and down. In a real human hand, the fingers and thumb can move both sideways and up-and-down – two degrees of freedom.

The next task is to add motor control to the fingers and then improve the design to allow for each finger to move independently in two axes.

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