Hand impairments represent a significant category of injuries, which can be limiting and impeding in the execution of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). As can be widely appreciated in scientific literature, a great number of solutions has been proposed in last years for rehabilitating and assisting the patient in both mechanical (e.g. object manipulation) and also social tasks (e.g. shaking hands). Among the numerous approaches, robotic Hand Exoskeleton Systems (HES) represent a vast class of solutions to the problem, as they have several advantages. Contrarily to functional electrical stimulation techniques, for example, HES devices are less invasive and entail to a lesser induced muscular fatigue.
In the present work, the authors propose the redesign of a HES robotic device developed at the University of Florence, by means of Topological Optimization (TO) techniques. Even if the existing device is already functional and tested it is still characterized by high encumbrances and masses, in disrespect to the functional requirements. The redesign process has been addressed to a future production of the final object prototype in a titanium alloy, by means of an Electron Beam Melting (EBM) 3D printing machine. The entire procedure was carried out starting from a complete kinematic and dynamic study, followed by the application of TO techniques and it was finally validated by Finite Element Method (FEM) analysis. A single-finger mechanism prototype has been fabricated through additive manufacturing (by means of PolyJet technology) to test the ergonomics and aesthetics of the device.
The problem is introduced and contextualized in the Introduction section, while the methodology is subsequently extensively explained, followed by the presentation of the results. In the Conclusion section, the discussion of the process and the result is presented, while possible improving and developments are briefly hinted at.