3D Printed Wrist Brace

I injured my wrist recently, wasn’t serious enough to see a doctor (yet) but there’s an uncomfortable position that I wanted to avoid. From what I learned about recovering from my back pain, to aid the recovery of my wrist I need to avoid irritating it, especially the tendon and ligament.

I’ve seen others using wrist braces and I thought to give one a shot, but then I don’t like to buy single-use products. After some research, I was wondering if I could 3D print my own. In my mind, the design would have to be designed in 3 dimensions (duh!) but since the shape of each person’s hand is different, it would be near impossible to get a good fit with existing models available online.

Turn out there’s a smart designer who designed a model that’s printed flat, soften it with hot water and then mold it to fit the hand. That’s so brilliant!!! The common 3D printing material, PLA had an inherent problem, it softens under the heat of the sun. It starts to soften at around 60’C. But for this case, he turns that into a feature, to make an easy-to-print model that fits all hands.

This is the design on Thingiverse (Credit to puiLAB)

Slic3r showing the scale and cost

Since my Asian hand is typically smaller, I test print with a scale at 75% and later found it to be a bit tight near the thumb, so I end up with 90%. Slic3r shows that it only cost me $0.74, about $1.50 for both prints.

Scaled to 75% on the left and 90% on the right
Test fit. I reuse the wrap from my blood donation, love the smiley!

I’ve recently experienced another commercial product that uses the same technique to achieve self-fitting, SOVA Night Guard. I’m amazed by the outcome, and it cost less than 1/10 of what the dentist going to charge me for a custom fit night guard, while not having to make 2 trips to get it done. Talking about progress in material technology!

I don’t think robots replacing humans is the only problem we’re are facing, advances in technology will always threaten how things are used to be and challenge our comfort zone. The solution is to embrace the change rather than resist.

As a maker, I actually feel that we’re now more empowered than ever to solve existing problems with more creative and ingenious solutions.