The BMW plant in Germany has introduced the use of 3D-printed 'super thumbs' that workers can wear to help reduce stress on joints while assembling parts. Each thumb is made of thermoplastic polyurethane and is designed to fit each individual's hand, using a mobile scanner.
It fits over the user's hand like a second skin, allowing them to move around freely. However, when the thumb straightens, the device becomes rigid in order to alleviate stress on the joint when it presses down firmly.
The super thumbs are currently being tested at the Munich factory, in the line that fits rubber plugs to engines.
"These have to be pressed in with the thumb," a BMW representative said. "Even for people with strong hand muscles, the movement requires a certain effort."
BMW added that this technology is part of their efforts to provide support to their workers.