Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change!

Wrist brace

by piuLAB, published

Wrist brace by piuLAB Jul 22, 2014

Featured Thing!


PLA wrist brace, printed flat in open shape, next bended on the wrist of the patient after heating in hot water.
EDIT: thanks to all for comments, we're really happy of the success of this thing and we hope it could be useful to someone.
We are not doctors (just designers) so we recommend to test any design with your physiotherapist, and to adapt the design to your needs and your size.
The idea of forming PLA in hot water came from Andreas Bastian (http://www.thingiverse.com/AndreasBastian/overview), we just saw his wonderful blog and tought it could be applied to any medical prosthesis, so we made some tests on wrist braces.
You sould also read is more recent instructables, contains a lot of useful information about the forming in hot water.
We hope this thing can start a small movement of interested peoples sharing their design, to make this thing work for the best.
There is no better designer that the one who really need something :)

Recent Comments

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wow, It is amazing. Our team share your project on 3dhug.com

ABS doesn't have a discrete glass temperature, it doesn't really become soft and pliable the way PLA does, it just... melts.

Could this work with ABS?

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Take a paper pattern modelled on the wrist of the patient.
After measuring, draw the shape on the software you like and design a solid form.
Print it flat, in PLA (for it's low glas temperature), and with solid infill (100% fill in Cura).
Dip the 3D-printed component in hot water, just under boiling temperature.
Take the piece out the water with tweezers (the print is still hot), shake it and wait a couple of seconds to drain all residuate of hot water and put directly on the wrist of the person to shape the part (you can also use a piece of fabric to protect the wrist from hot droplets).
Use your hand to form the support, and let it cool down to freeze the shape.
Repeat the procedure (dipping just the part to modify) until the form is correctly modelled.

wow, It is amazing. Our team share your project on 3dhug.com

Could this work with ABS?

ABS doesn't have a discrete glass temperature, it doesn't really become soft and pliable the way PLA does, it just... melts.

please help, witch software would be the one to make or create this project ?

Jan 4, 2015 - Modified Jan 4, 2015

I used a hairdryer to heat up the plastic, it´s faster and easier than with water

if you use a iron (like what you use for ironing) you can mold it safer and quicker. you just have to use the steam function. i like the model but could you have it customizable pattern and stuff.

I have tested the mark 2 version and I have three modification suggestions for the mark 3 but I have not yet mastered blender My suggestions are 1 the stiffener around the thumb hole should be oval cross section instead of square to prevent edges digging into the skin 2 the profile of the leading edge of the palm section should be lowered down to the top of the brace bar to allow greater free movement of the knuckles 3 the lower section that wraps around the forearm should be widened and lengthened to increase forearm support , widen by 2 cm and lengthen by at least 5 cm this will also allow a fourth Velcro strap if needed

See ya Maniacus

I am in the process of adding an Aluminum insert into the palm-wrist support. Also, I am thinking about creating an investment mold, so I can cast a more thermostable plastic. (After all, I like to take hot showers!) Thank you for the design and the wonderful idea.

wow! keep us up to date! If i got it right your are going to print the brace flat, shape it, add wax runners and inserts, make a mold in plaster, fire it to evacuate PLA and wax, inject the new plastic. It seems awesome! :)

I have a suggestion for piuLAB about scaling the brace to fit specific hands Have the patient wrap a string around his hand above the thumb and mark the lines where they cross , then use the following formula to calculate the X.Y. scaling to size the brace to the patients hand , A= hand diameter measured from string marks in mm B= distance between brace stiffener bars in mm measured above thumb hole , FORMULA IS ((A/2)/B) this will allow the maker to resize the brace prior to printing Also it would be useful to include materials suggestions and softening temperatures for material prior to wrapping the brace around the patients hand

Ok thank you for feedback! the formula is a nice idea, we'll try it and we'll add it to our instructions! For the material we just tried PLA, because we knew about it's glass transition temperature wich is about 60°C. PLA is also more suitable among others material because is more secure for skin compatibility (is also used for surgery implant). We didn't provided lot more sizes and models because we intended to initiate a re-design movement here on thingiverse. As we see that people just print our design as they are we'll provide more models and sizes :)

Do you have files for left hands?

piuLAB - in reply to AAE

We just mirror in Cura for left hand! We don't know if in the makerbot software there is this function, if not let us know and we'll update the files with mirrored version!

AAE - in reply to piuLAB

I have a Cubify printer and I cannot find a mirror function in the Cubify slicer.

maniacus - in reply to AAE

The simplest way to make a left hand brace is to use a mirror command in your modeling software , align the mirror parallel to the stiffening bars in the brace there you go

Excellent! This is really useful.

Anybody found out why it hanges on 69% ? I have tried several times now, both v1 and v2, but no luck :(

I wonder if this thing would provide enough support for carpal tunnel. I wear a brace at work to alleviate strain on my wrist and this could be very cost effective vs buying new braces every month.

we suggest you to just try! print it solid (100% infill), and if you feel that is not rigid enough you can make it thickier just scaling up the Z dimension. Our design is just a test, the ideal is if you design your own! We suggest to use a paper model (or textile) to find the right dimension and shape for your need. You can mimic the brace you use, then modify for improvement!

Yesterday, my orthopedist OK'd my using this design (yay!), which is mesmerizingly beautiful. I'm 1.5 yrs. & 4 surgeries out from a bad fall, radius break; my arm is not healing properly so will need to wear a brace for 1 yr. Surely I don't need to state the obvious: current designs are clunky, not waterproof (or even water-resistant) and -- most important -- not optimally customizable to specific support.

Anyone have tips on finding someone to print a brace for me? (I'm from Austin but am temporarily living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.) I'll appreciate any guidance from the Maker community or anyone from ANYwhere who can help. Thanks muchly!

Thanks, man! Sure do appreciate your interest, offer; I followed Kert's 3dhubs lead and found the help I need for now.

As I post this, an Austin Maker is printing both brace files for this thing, and in the next couple of days we're gonna' measure, size and reprint as necessary. (I'm gonna' ask the Maker-dude to post photos here, in case others may find them useful.)

Among the many wonders of 3d printing is that there's seemingly no waste: I plan to donate any printed brace that I cannot use.

With all my heart, I cannot thank you, Kert, and the Austin Maker-dude enough. This brace is poised to change my life. MAKERS ARE THE GREATEST SMARTYPANTS IN THE WORLD!

kert - in reply to TexMix

Hi, i'm a print hub based in France, I'm using 3dhubs to get orders from people just like you! I checked and there are print hubs in dallas where you are. Go check it there : http://www.3dhubs.com/3dprint?hf[data][location][search]=Dallas&hf[data][location][lat]=32.8998091&hf[data][location][lon]=-97.04033520000002&hf[data][location][radius]=50 you just need to upload the .stl file and order to the print hub of your choice ;)

Wish you luck :)

TexMix - in reply to kert

Thank you, Kert! I'll check out the Dallas hub. And, as a neophyte to the universe of 3D printing, I didn't even know that the technology was *invented by Carl Deckard at the University of Texas -- yes, in my home town of Austin. Sheesh! Carl's picture reflects a good ol' hippie; seems about right.

If you -- or anyone who reads this -- wishes to contact me, here's my email address: [email protected]

  • (... at least that's what the UT College of Engineering's Laboratory for Freeform Fabrication claims on their website; y'all know what braggarts we Texans are, so my statement could be wrong)
Jul 31, 2014 - Modified Jul 31, 2014
kert - in reply to TexMix

You're welcome ;) Well... I didn't know it either ^^, not an history digger in general :)

Would be great to see it as a full cast

Works really well. Could use a little less on the part between the thumb and index finger. Mine sticks out some and can't be molded well because the excess has to go somewhere.

+LAB -stress!! Great idea.

Make sure you don't take hot baths with your from-the-future bracelet :)

Hi, This is a great idea! When I try and convert the file or "Make it" it for my Makerbot and it keeps getting hung up at the 59% mark - tried both files. Let me know if you think its something on my end. Looking forward to seeing this design move forward!

I am having a similar problem. When I go to export the print file in Makerbot, it keeps getting stuck. Did you ever fix this problem?

I've got the same problem, wont export the file even after exporting through Netfabb

I did get v1 to render but v2 still baffles me, it goes threw netfabb cloud but in basic it comes up with the second warning on export,,,, waiting on a free machine.

I am in know way knocking your work, I need 2 of these and appreciate the help.... damn sure the gov/obumacare won't


ps,when I explode it it takes ~

netfabb basic fixed it, nf cloud made it worse.....

junk model will not render , 11 mb's? will try in netfabb but in all honesty I will just design my own

we'll check the model soon for errors, but the basic idea is just design your own according to your needs :) we suggest paper/fabric templates to get the right shape and measures

Congrats on being featured after 2 days.

Jul 24, 2014 - Modified Jul 24, 2014

How long do you put it in water to soften it enough? Almost boiling water I guess?

Right, just a minute in almost boiling water :) Just give enough time to heat up the material to the core of the object, so if the object is thicker leave it more time in the water. The temperature have to stay above 70-80 °C while forming the object, don't try to force the deformation if it cools down, just heat up again the part you need to form. For our brace we made around 10 dip and form steps. Flat and solid parts work the best. Shake the parts to avoid hot water droplets before forming the parts on your skins, they hurts!

This is awesome! I suffer from a chronic wrist injury from work years ago and I buy the braces once a month or so cause the velcro wears out. Gonna try this ASAP

yeah we were thinking about someone in your situation, cause everyone of us got some injury in the past and had to try this kind of braces for some weeks, but if you have to wear it for more time you will need something more personal and well designed. We got the idea looking around the E-Nable comunity (http://enablingthefuture.org/), someone was making the wrist part forming the PLA with this method, and we tough it was just perfect to make any kind of orthopedic stuff. We are not doctors or physiotherapist so the shape we made are a bit "random", we suggest you to make your own flat template using a piece of paper or fabric, then to modify/redesign the part according your need, and maybe with your doctor approval! You can stiffen some part making it more thick, and make some part more flexible leaving more holes and thinner parts.

Well done. Time to break my thumb :)

don't do it. please :)

very well designed. Looks awesome

Didnt know you could do this with PLA. Thanks for showing us!

we didn't know it too! got the idea looking around the enabling comunity (http://enablingthefuture.org/), someone was making the wrist part with this method, if we find the original source we will post the link here soon!

by the way I talked to the e-nable guys, they said they used microwave to soften the pla. probably in water.

Andreas, who came up with the idea, just posted http://www.instructables.com/id/Thermoforming-3D-Printed-PLA-for-Use-in-Prostethic/ .

Your wrist brace is BEAUTIFUL!

Wow! Thats really impressive!