Helping Hand: Victoria Hand Project Revamps Prosthetic Design Process With Autodesk Fusion

Heather Miller Heather Miller September 28, 2023

3 min read

See how custom prosthetics organization Victoria Hand Project expanded its efforts to Ukraine with a refreshed software application and new UI powered by Autodesk Fusion.

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All images courtesy of Victoria Hand Project.

Amputees often face a lengthy and expensive challenge to obtain a prosthetic–even in the most developed and wealthiest countries. The World Health Organization estimates that only 1 in 10 people in need have access to prostheses due to high cost and lack of awareness, availability, and trained personnel.

Many amputations are a result of armed conflict, accidents, disease, or lack of public health services. For the past eight years, Victoria Hand Project has worked to deliver a viable solution with 3D-printed, customized prosthetic hands, sockets, and arm limbs.  

“We develop the technology and workflows, and we then partner with clinicians in communities or areas where access to prosthetic care is difficult,” says Michael Peirone, CEO, Victoria Hand Project. “We provide training and equipment to people on the ground so they can produce the prosthetics themselves. We say it’s like teaching someone how to fish. But, instead, it’s helping to make hands and arms for others.” 

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The Victoria, Canada-based non-profit organization serves over 10 countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Haiti, Egypt, Ecuador, Nepal, and more. This year, they expanded to Ukraine to help those injured during the war. Two sites are already operating in the country. 

“There are soldiers and civilians who are unable to obtain prosthetics due to demand and the disruption of the prosthetic networks in the country,” Peirone says. “They needed a solution that could be made in the country since factories and availability for local components have been destroyed.” 

Empowering clinicians

Victoria Hand Project provided its software application powered by Autodesk Fusion (donated through Autodesk’s Technology Impact Program) and eight 3D printers to begin work in Ukraine. With training and just this small amount of technology, clinicians can now produce custom sockets, limbs, and both left and right mechanical hands in a variety of sizes.  

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The development all happens very quickly. Up to three patients can come in during a single day for a 3D scan of their arms using Autodesk Recap. Clinicians input the dimensions and customizations into a software application with an easy user interface. The customized prosthetic then 3D prints right away or overnight. Patients can be fitted the very next day and walk out the door with an entirely new physical capability.

“Collaboration with Fusion is so important with our work. We can easily open and edit files, and our partners can also simply share a file. We’re not having to download from DropBox, Google Drive, or anything like that.”

—Michael Peirone, CEO, Victoria Hand Project

Evolving the process for 3D printing prosthetics

Victoria Hand Project is using a relatively new user interface and customization workflow in Ukraine. In the past year, they decided to take a different approach to how clinicians created custom prosthetics.

Previously, clinicians entered the anatomical dimensions into a Fusion parametric model and created a library of various sizes of limb sockets, with different lengths and circumferences. The clinician would select a socket closely matching the patient’s limb size and use Meshmixer to customize the socket using a 3D scan. Over time, the Victoria Hand Project team discovered this hindered growth as most clinicians have limited CAD experience. 

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“We’d been doing that process for many years, and it worked pretty well,” Peirone says. “But as we learned more about the API tools for Fusion we thought, ‘Hey, we can automate some of this and do everything entirely in Fusion.’” 

“With our previous process, it would take us 20 minutes or even longer to design a custom socket. Now, we can create one in less than 10 minutes and it’s ready for 3D printing. It’s all about speed and efficiency—and Fusion is making it happen.” 

—Michael Peirone, CEO, Victoria Hand Project
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With the help of a software developer and pro bono consulting from the Autodesk Foundation team, Victoria Hand Project created an entirely seamless approach and user interface. Now, it’s incredibly intuitive for clinicians. All they need to do is simply click the type of hand, model, features, and sizes. Short videos alongside the information fields deliver clear instructions on what to input and where. 

“It’s a really easy tool for clinicians to use, and Fusion is powering it all,” Peirone says. “They don’t need to navigate through the CAD features because everything is automated. So much is made possible by the mesh workspace in Fusion.” 

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