Made in Croatia

Andrej Djukic Wants Winning Prosthetic Hand Project to be Available to Everyone

By 29 November 2020
Andrej Djukic
Andrej Djukic Credit: Marko Ercegović / Source: Facebook

November 29, 2020 – Young Croatian product designer Andrej Djukic made the best and cheapest hand prosthesis, and thanks to this project, he recently won the Cybathlon world competition. But he does not want to stop there, as his wish is to make his hand prosthesis affordable for everyone.

As reports, after four years of development, Andrej Djukic achieved extraordinary success with his hand prosthesis project called Maker Hand. Namely, he received the confirmation that his prosthetic hand is truly the best and most functional by winning the world competition Cybathlon, an international sports competition for people with disabilities in which the most modern prosthetic equipment is used.

In a competition between several large companies and teams of 10-30 researchers from prestigious universities, Andrej participated as an independent designer, and – won.


Andrej Djukic (right) with the user of his prosthesis Krunoslav Mihić at the Cybathlon competition / Source: Facebook / Copyright Marko Ercegović

This prestigious competition, which is also called a kind of Olympics for prosthetic aids, is organized by ETH Zurich, one of the highest quality tech universities in the world. It is organized every four years, and it is attended by leading companies and teams that deal with prostheses and aids from around the world, which makes the success of this young designer from Dubrovnik even more sensational.

Amazing success

As Vizkultura reports, Maker Hand won overwhelmingly in the "Powered Arm Prosthesis Race (ARM)" category. The user of the hand prosthesis with which Andrej Djukic won this year's Cybathlon is Krunoslav Mihić from Nova Gradiška.

Users of prostheses who compete with designers at Cybathlon are most often paid professionals who train for years to participate, using prostheses in their daily lives over a long period. However, Andrej was forced to change his prosthesis user a year before the competition, and with his new prosthesis user Krunoslav he had very little time to practice due to the lockdown. However, they managed to do only 40 hours of real training, so this kind of success is simply amazing.

"Among other things, in the competition, the competitor must open the jar with the mechanical hand, take a match out of the box and light a candle, turn on a light bulb, tie shoelaces, build a tower of plastic cups, fasten a jacket and sweatshirt, hammer in a nail, slice bread, and hook clips. We won convincingly and we were faster than the second-fastest team by a whole minute," says Andrej proudly.


 In a Facebook post, Andrej Djukic congratulated the other teams they competed against / Source: Andrej Djikic Facebook

Unlike other competitors who used advanced technologies, he used only a 3D printer for making his Maker Hand and, as he says, "the cost of parts of a single Maker Hand is less than 30 dollars and it can be assembled in a few days with a hobby 3d printer."

Durable, reliable, and affordable

Andrej was born in 1991 in Rijeka. He finished elementary school and mathematics high school in Dubrovnik, and then enrolled in the Study of Design at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb.

He used to design an economical and environmentally friendly furniture system, which is easy to transport, assemble and disassemble, but the furniture design did not satisfy him, so he decided to continue the study of integrated product design at the largest and oldest Dutch Technical University Delft (TU Delft).

Four years ago, Andrej suffered a chronic ankle injury through a combination of wrestling and football, which prevented him from playing sports. This prompted him to think about leg prostheses, and through independent research and learning, he came to his first functional prototype of a prosthetic hand after a year.


Krunoslav Mihić at the competition / Source: Andrej Djukic Facebook / Copyright Marko Ercegović

However, to make the story even better, his goal is to make the prosthesis available to everyone at minimal cost because, he believes, medicine should be free.

"I think the prices of prosthetic fists are completely insane. In general, I think that medicine should be free and that everyone should have equal access to the best medical technologies. Expensive robotic arms are difficult to control, they also need a battery, which needs to be placed somewhere, and they lack finesse. Maker Hand is very simple and functional, and is made of biodegradable plastic with the help of a 3D printer," says Andrej, who is currently realizing a global online platform that will connect volunteers, 3D model makers, and professional therapists with potential users of amputated hands, so that each of them, regardless of financial capabilities and location in the world, get a fully functional "replacement" hand for free.

With an open-source project available to everyone, Andrej wants to provide functional solutions without financial burden for prosthesis users and their families.

"The plan for the project is to gather a community of volunteer engineers/makers/prosthetists to build these hands for people who need them around the world at no cost to the amputee themselves, and also to work on improving the design to make it as durable and reliable as possible," says Andrej on his webpage.

So far, his hand has been used by three users, one of whom is Krunoslav who lost his hand in an accident at work in a factory, but also the boy Dominik Nestić, who lost both hands in the accident. Everyone is very happy and says it is the best prosthesis they have worn.

To support his work, visit his project Maker Hand page.

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