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Chinese Man Builds His Own Prosthetic Hands 144

Posted by samzenpus
from the arts-and-crafts dept.
New submitter macbeth66 writes "Almost 10 years ago, Sun Jifa lost his hands in an explosion. Unable to afford the prosthetic hands recommended by the hospital, he built his own. From the article: 'After eight years of tinkering, he says he finally developed a working model that allows him to grip, hold, and mimic other necessary movements via a system of pulleys and wires.'"
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Chinese Man Builds His Own Prosthetic Hands

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  • Impressive! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steppedleader (2490064) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:25AM (#41020379)
    Seems like this would be hard to do without hands...
    • by Compaqt (1758360) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:53AM (#41020507) Homepage

      Why do you say that?

      After all, Abraham Lincoln built the log cabin he was born in with his own hands.

    • My first reaction was the same as yours. I 'm pretty darn impressed. I'm also perversely pleased to see that fishing with dynamite isn't just for my cousins. Fishing with dynamite: the equal opportunity dipshit thing to do. (The article, of course didn't explicitly say so, but I can't figure any other way that fishing and dynamite would go together. Can anybody offer enlightenment?)
      • Re:Impressive! (Score:5, Informative)

        by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:50AM (#41020763)

        Dynamite is very effective at causing a major shockfront in the water, that ruptures the fish's swim bladders, which are used to control the fish's altituded in the water. Once ruptured, the fish can no longer swim, and will float listlessly on the top. It is usually also directly fatal to the fish.

        It is a very indescriminate way to fish, but also *very* effective. It can completely denude a body of water of all fish.

        if this man really was using dynamite to fish, it sounds like he got hold of one with a very fast burning fuse, which happens when the sticks get old. He is lucky to be alive at all.

        • if this man really was using dynamite to fish, it sounds like he got hold of one with a very fast burning fuse, which happens when the sticks get old. He is lucky to be alive at all.

          I've had enough experience with firecrackers that have fast fuses -- fast fused dynamite just sounds bad.

          • Re:Impressive! (Score:5, Informative)

            by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday August 17, 2012 @04:09AM (#41021243)

            Quite.

            Dynamite (Authentic) is nitroglycerine, suspended in an inert matrix. Originally sawdust, but other inert matrices have also been used historically, such as diatomaceous earth.

            The sawdust form is especially vulnerable to becoming old and "sweaty". Essentially, the suspended nitroglycerine wicks its way out of the matrix, and toward the surface, where it forms a "coating." This is bad for a large number of reasons:

            1) Nitroglycerine is easily and readily absorbed through the skin, and is a well known cardiac-suppressant.

            2) Nitroglycerine, without the stabilizing matrix, is a notoriously sensitive contact explosive.

            3) The sweated nitroglycerine can wick up into the fuse, making it burn VERY quickly; FAR too quickly to throw away once lit, making old sticks unsafe for any purpose. It will explode almost instantly.

            For these reasons and several others, the use of genuine dynamite has fallen out of favor in nearly all developed and developing countries in favor of more stable and less toxic/sensitive high explosives, like PentaErythritol TetraNitrate (PETN), and TriNitroToluene (TNT).

            Genuine dynamite is fairly rare, and it is much more likely that this chinese fisherman was using home-made devices, like nitrogen fertilizer bombs made from ammonium nitrate and kerosine, but it could be possible he has/had access to the genuine article.

             

            • Genuine dynamite is fairly rare, and it is much more likely that this chinese fisherman was using home-made devices, like nitrogen fertilizer bombs made from ammonium nitrate and kerosine

              How exactly does one detonate such a mixture in a reasonably small amount? I've always thought that in order to detonate these mixtures, you need a sufficient amount of it and at least a brick (a few hundred grams?) of high explosive, e.g., TNT, which in turn requires a blasting cap. All this stuff That's not exactly practical for fishing.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              ...the use of genuine dynamite has fallen out of favor in nearly all developed and developing countries in favor of more stable and less toxic/sensitive high explosives, like PentaErythritol TetraNitrate (PETN), and TriNitroToluene (TNT).

              So, TNT isn't dynamite? Someone tell AC/DC.

              • Don't bother. You won't win that fight.

        • Few float (Score:5, Informative)

          by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Friday August 17, 2012 @05:08AM (#41021499) Homepage
          Actually only a few will float to the top if you use explosives. The majority will sink to the bottom and go to waste. If you want to do it right, stun them with electricity, but not enough to kill them, and then they will float to the top. That way you can also release live the ones you won't eat. I've seen the DNR gather fish for their surveys using stunners and the equipment is rather simple.
          • by wierd_w (1375923)

            True story.

            You can stun fish (still illegal without special permits) using some jumper cables and a running vehicle's alternator.

            You can also chemically stun them with juglones and other phytotoxic substances as well.

            Dynamite is simply highly portable, and relatively easy to use: light, and toss.

            • by hey! (33014)

              True story. My wife went to a presentation by a graduate student in which he proposed to do an ecological study of a small pond by rapidly freezing everything in place, thus getting a "snapshot" of the pond at one instant of time.

              Since making water ice is obviously too energy intensive and slow, he proposed to use a compound that when dissolved in water set to a plastic-like compound via a rapid exothermic reaction. The climax of his presentation was a small-scale demonstration. Unfortunately the reaction w

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          He is lucky to be alive at all.

          Well, lucky he got to a hospital before he bled to death. Usually in an explosion it's not the shock wave that kills you, it's the debris from that shock wave. Remember, water is a lot denser than air.

        • Also Chinese fuses are not up to snuff for safety/reliability. Hence why I don't buy the cheap Chinese Visco. It is too damn volatile.

          China has a poor record of giving a damn about human lives, so keep that in mind when buying certain things where safety is a major concern (such as cars). Go watch a few Chinese car crash tests, it is hilarious how they crumple like a Faygo can.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Hacker of the year award?

    • by DriedClexler (814907) on Friday August 17, 2012 @03:33AM (#41021001)

      He had help from M. C. Escher [wikipedia.org].

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      true, if he lost his hands above the elbows, it would have been even harder for him. OTOH many people who have no hands learn to use their legs and feet very effectively, so maybe he could build it anyway, also he does have relatives (looks like from one of the pictures), they could help.

    • Yeah, sort of like hammering the last nail when you try to crucify yourself.

    • by nukenerd (172703)
      If he can build a set of working hands without hands, more than most people could do, why does he need the hands?
  • by vencs (1937504) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:25AM (#41020381)
    High five he had after finishing it!
  • It's that he did that with no hands!

  • Groovy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:31AM (#41020423)

    I went from 'go Chinese man!' to 'one of those could have been a chainsaw!' remarkably quickly.

    I'm trying to decide if that makes me bad.

  • The 10,000 yuan man.
  • Handy (Score:3, Funny)

    by dark grep (766587) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:39AM (#41020453)

    He must have become progressively handy over the years, since he did it himself and no one gave him a hand. I wonder if we will hand off the project now? I guess if nothing else, he has become more handsome as a result of his efforts.

  • by zippo01 (688802) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:39AM (#41020455)
    See communism works after all. You start with a need, put in a little hard work and entrepreneurialism and poof, new arms. Of wait that's capitalism. Disregard.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The major difference between Communism and Capitalism is that in the first the workers own the means of production, in the latter these are owned by someone else. Neither has anything to do with building new stuff. If anything, what he did is related to hacking (and a lack of access to good, free/cheap, medical care).

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Yeah in reality the "state" controls the means of production on behalf of the workers, because who would let a bunch of illiterate peasants actually control the means of production. And that's where the fun begins...
      • by rohan972 (880586)

        The major difference between Communism and Capitalism is that in the first the workers own the means of production, in the latter these are owned by someone else.

        Yet here I am, a worker who owns my own means of production. Not the pseudo ownership of state control, which isn't ownership for the masses in any meaningful way, but me personally having the right to my own tools and equipment to be productive in my chosen occupation, so I can negotiate contracts to work without a "boss" as an intermediary taking the profits.

        • Really? Do you own a truck? Do you do deliveries? If so, do you own the roads that you're driving on? Or are you an information worker? Do you own a computer? Do you own the phone lines that connect you to the internet?

          Nobody owns all the means of production in capitalism. It's always about owning some small fraction of the means of production, and fudging the numbers on everything else that's needed (a.k.a. externalities).

          • by Richy_T (111409)

            Yeah, you didn't build that!

          • by rohan972 (880586)
            Well I'm not arguing for extremes. I live in Australia which is fairly socialist compared to the US and even some of the work I do is government contracting. Nevertheless I work in a trade and there is a lot of difference between owning your own equipment and using equipment owned by someone else, not so much difference between getting paid a wage by a company or government department. It doesn't make me a financial and productive island, I still live in society, what I'm challenging is the idea that worker
      • As I have got older I have come to believe that there is NO major difference between any political system. There are always rich bastards at the top to whom the law does not apply. And always poor people at the bottom, who get treated like shit and to whom the law will always mean oppression, not redress.

        Just when you think you live in a *free and fair* society the GFC comes along to remind you of the ugly truth.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      No, state provides for everyone unless you're not high up in the party. Wait, that's communism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How is China a Communist state?

      • by raddan (519638) *

        How is China a Communist state?

        I recently traveled to China for a conference, and this exact question was a recurring thought to me. Aside from the restrictions on the internet (no Facebook, Google mostly doesn't work), and the large number of bored-looking (and sometimes sleeping-on-the-job) police, there were few reminders that the place was communist. To me, it seemed very much like a developing nation-- people were entrepreneurial and resourceful. To me, the main difference between the US and China for your average person is that

    • by sa666u (2626427)
      There is absolutely no difference for the common people whether a country's economy is "free" or planned. You still end up a lifetime slave to interest groups. This man would have built his hands regardless of the economic policies of the Chinese government.
    • by houghi (78078) on Friday August 17, 2012 @04:21AM (#41021309)

      Communism is bad, because he needed to pay for his own medical needs. Of wait that's capitalism. Disregard.

    • Capitalism wins again!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:43AM (#41020469)

    That is quite a feet.

    Puns totally intended.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One day one of you sorry smartass pricks is going to face a challenge in life.

    It is doubtful you will meet the challenge as well as this man did.

    Think about that when the day comes, which I assure you it will.

    But in the mean time I hope your smart mouth gets you an ass whipping,
    and soon.

    • One day one of you sorry smartass pricks is going to face a challenge in life.

      It is doubtful you will meet the challenge as well as this man did.

      Think about that when the day comes, which I assure you it will.

      But in the mean time I hope your smart mouth gets you an ass whipping, and soon.

      First off: My smart mouth has no ass to whip.
      Secondly: I have overcome MUCH in life.
      Finally: If I couldn't laugh and make smart remarks about it all then I'd have off'ed myself long ago.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not to mention most of these jokes were made in celebration...not actually making fun of the guy.

    • Oh come now my dear AC, don't be so drab; we all know the Chinese will be taking over shortly and just want to have a little fun before hand
    • Bein' a smart-ass prick...that's a paddlin' [youtube.com].
  • Inspiring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asmkm22 (1902712) on Friday August 17, 2012 @01:46AM (#41020477)
    Say what you will about the Chinese but, if this were an American, he'd be shopping for a book deal and making millions as a motivational speaker. He'd probably get some weird Craftsman sponsorship as well. Instead, he seems genuinely interested in helping other people get access to what he built. It's inspiring, to say the least.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:03AM (#41020543)

    This man deserves a medal for ingenuity under extreme hardship.

    One thing that added unnecessarily to his misery though was that the hospital recommended a prosthetic that he couldn't afford. It's not a huge stretch of the imagination for hospitals to run cheap RepRap-type 3D printers for such needs and print out basic parts on demand. Both the building and running costs are very low indeed.

    Of course such parts would be very poor compared to professional prosthetics or even professional 3D printing, but when the choice is between that and nothing, it's hard to argue against it. And the flexibility of such printing means that it is easily adapted to evolve with individual requirements, and replacement of printed parts is almost cost-free when they break or wear out.

    It seems a good fit for this kind of unfortunate situation, and it might have made this man's days more bearable as he worked on his own solution, or indeed contributed to it where plastic is more appropriate than steel.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2012 @02:28AM (#41020673)

      This man is a badass. If you look at the pictures everything is made from scrap.

      Problem is the egregiously high cost of some medical devices. Outrageous in most cases.

      However, once he starts building them for others his costs are going to go up, or he will have to absorb a huge amount of liability. It's not always that simple since the majority of most medical device costs are the insurance. That's most often why something that would be a few thousand is all of the sudden 20k in the medical industry. Nothing all that different in the specs, just the insurance.

      Material costs will go up once he starts using different materials as well.

      We could send this guy a 3D printer and some materials (assuming he has the sophistication to use the software) and it might just end up getting him in trouble with the authorities or landed in court.

      All that being said it would be awesome if this guy could get paired up with a Chinese engineer and they could build low cost prosthetic based on his design.

      Definitely an inspiration.

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        or he will have to absorb a huge amount of liability.

        Not necessarily. I believe that liability legislation is directly proportional to cost, all other things being equal. If the guy takes half an hour to sit down with you and walk you through the device, what it does, and what it doesn't do, and the device costs $20, you're not going to be too upset if/when it breaks. But if the device costs you $200,000 you are going to want it to last forever and do everything you can dream of and then some, and are going to be pissed if it doesn't.

    • by PSVMOrnot (885854)

      For that sort of application most of the prosthetic would/should be mass produced. As awesome as 3D printers are they are really for prototyping and customization rather than cheap manufacturing. I would see it more as using a 3D printer to print off some parts for customized fitting to the patient, and using off the shelf parts for the rest.

      On the other hand, there are plenty of robotic hand projects which could be adapted to function as prosthetics. [thingiverse.com] So, go take a look and see if you get inspired.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      This man deserves a medal for ingenuity under extreme hardship.

      "lost his hands in a fishing-related explosion" is the polite way of saying "lost his hands while building a bomb to fish illegally"
      There's a reason that blast fishing is illegal almost everywhere in the world, China included.

    • Why would hospitals make cheap prosthetics instead of just recommending a company that make cheap prosthetics?
  • Fishing related explosion!? go on....

    Also I hope his fingertips aren't rounded or Apple might have already patented that!
    • For God's sake man! I think you just inadvertently discovered the final solution to world peace! Apple patents Explosions! .. i m a g i n e

      I am an avid reader/fan of Paul Theroux [wikipedia.org] and remember his descriptions of dynamite-fishing, which were pretty depressing. It's a super practical way to obtain fish (and other debris), especially in third-world situations where environmental impacts are at best, abstract and strange concepts. I don't remember where it was exactly, but somewhere off the coasts of South-E
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Fullmetal alchemist!

    • Yes, it even looks like automail. But this is Slashdot, people here are not eager to admit their knowledge of these "ugly Japanese cartoons". Now, if only you had mentioned some obscure real-life technology, an instantly assembled group of 4-6 digit id geeks would appear here in comments. They would brag about "good old times", when they worked on most advanced personal computer of that time (Apple 2, of course), and how they built their first ham-radio module in kindergarten, and once had a dinner with Hei
  • by isorox (205688)

    Once again, the UK shows the way with the NHS. While in China, Afghanistan, the US and North Korea, only the elite get medical treatment, in the UK everyone gets it (and it's half the price per head than the U.S. system).

  • Clever dick!

    Sorry, couldn't resist an oldie...
  • why no one bothers to hire him. I can imagine that his (hands-on) experience, both form producer and consumer side regarding prosthetics is quite rare and china has to be in great demand of such skills, that is being such a large and industious country.
  • Touched on above but I'm not seeing it answered (and my google-fu was weak) so: China's a Communist country, why was this guy expected to buy his own prostheses? Isn't one of the benefits of Communism supposed to be that the State takes care of that?
    • Surely you understand the difference between an untryable theory ("from each according to ability to each according to need" won't work because people are greedy/selfish/rationally self interested) and the dictatorship currently in power in China?
      Dictatorship of the proletariat will always become dictatorship over the proletariat.

  • Nowhere in the article does it say that he was using explosives, merely that he suffered a fishing related explosion. It could have been something as simple as the gas tank on his boat blew up. Don't diminish the accomplishment of him building arms he can control with his elbows out of scrap metal. I'm thinking Tony Stark should be talking to this guy.
  • He's very handy.
  • Just think of the hands he can make now that he actually has hands.
  • That guy made me think of Tony Stark who build himself an armour out of spare parts in a cave, except that Tony had hands to do it and also this guy can't fly.

  • I'm still trying to figure out if "I can work, love normally and feed myself just like anyone else," is a typo, or if he is just really comfortable talking about his sex life. Either way, he's an inspiration.

  • Instructions too confusing. Got dick stuck in prosthetic.

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