Plastic Soda Bottle Prosthesis




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We would like to thank everyone for their kind comments, ratings, and votes. A video demonstration of this process has been produced and uploaded to YouTube. In addition, the Technical Note previously submitted to the Prosthetics and Orthotics International Journal has been accepted for publication in the near future. If you would like to know more please feel free to contact us.

In resource-limited areas worldwide, individuals with amputations may not be able to gain access to prosthetics devices due to a lack of the materials needed to fabricate them. This simple technique utilizes a 2-liter soda bottle to create below-the-elbow prosthesis suitable for a number of light-duty activities.

Please note well that this technique is intended for use by trained prosthetists and it is intended to be preformed only using a plaster cast of the residual limb.

The contents of this presentation/publication were developed under a grant from the Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research grant number H133E030017. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

- 2-liter plastic soda bottle
- heat gun
- formed plaster model of residual limb (amputation stump)
- hose clamp
- section of 1/2" PVC pipe
- band or manual saw
- utility knife

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Step 1:

1. Remove the bottom of the bottle and place over the plaster model. Then apply heat to the lower portion to form the trimline.

Step 2:

2. Heat the bottle until it conforms to the shape of the plaster model. This process takes about 15 minutes. Ensure that the bottle has fully conformed to the shape of the plaster model.

Step 3:

3. Mark and cut the trimline.

Step 4:

4. Make a cut through the threaded portion of the bottle.

Step 5:

5. Insert a piece of 1/2" PVC pipe with a terminal device, and secure with a hose clamp.

Step 6:

6. This "light-duty" prosthesis allows for static loading of at least 4 kgs while on the plaster model.

Multiple sockets can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively created and combined with various terminal devices for functional light-duty activities such as feeding, showering, drawing, or cosmesis.

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    116 Discussions

    i really like this instructable, i just stumbled across it, i wonder i i could use a mod of this to make a mold of my left leg , below the knee, mainly calf muscles, which is very muscular and make a snap on PET for my right leg below the knee, which is extremely atrophied due to spinal injury, the muscle are denerved, fibroids now.
    if i could make a snap on PET form, it would not be weight bearing at all ,
    purely cosmetic , Matching skin tone may be to far out of my reach' much, but if i made it to sock height it still would be huge improvement,
    i may try the technique used in making an AFO , plaster positive that is split , and see if i can make a snap on PET.
    it be interesting. IT is purely cosmetic, no weight bearing., probably cover it with a sock.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Oh I forgot to mention. . . . Adding labels to the various "attachments". This way if a friend is over ... or someone. You could say "Hey can you bring me my "multi-tool" attachment?" Or my bottle opener ... you get the idea !
    I saw somewhere a modified "Grabber" that attatched and was used by extending the elbo to grasp, and release when pulled back, but I can't find it anymore. It was a hand made device. It was also reversible.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Fantastic.  I would make Two though. One as described and another that utilizes the threads on the bottle.
    Easy enough to glue or screw a cap to something usefull = fast swap.

    Also using the Pipe/hose clamp is wonderful - I would swap out the standard "screw" for a large Wing-nut so one can easily swap devices without needing a tool to loosen the nut / screw...

    Wonderful Instructable


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I have a cool, but less "idealistic" application for this great idea:


    Make a positive copy of your camera: Cover it with a condom (or robber glove sleeve) and plastic wrap. Roll on a layer of soaked plaster bandage. Let harden and take apart. Coat with petroleum jelly or dish washing liquid. Re-assemble and fill with plaster. Let harden for several days, remove mold and polish positive.

    Measure that the positive is as big as the camera. If not, tape a material like 1mm thick cardboard to the flattest sides -perhaps also over the display area, so the armor will be 1mm away from the screen.

    Then do the same process as for the prosthetics, and cut holes where you need to access buttons and tripod threads.

    Instead of pulling out the positive, you may need to destroy it to get it out; don't bang the plastic too much in the process, since that may discolor it.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    It's amazing what one could do with a little ingenuity. Just imagine all of the wasted bottles cluttering the landfills. Funny how we don't realize the potential of such common things.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     maybe kipkay will be motivated and make a burning laser prosthesis.....


    10 years ago on Step 6

    You have no clue who all would thank you for this. Wow!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic, a deserving winner, five stars. Any ideas for easy hand tools that could interchange into the PVC (maybe more versatile than the paintbrush)?

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much, we hope that it will prove to be very useful for people who have undergone transradial amputation. Any number of terminal devices can be fitted into a PVC pipe and used with the soda bottle socket. For example, when one needs to change the terminal device, one can just unscrew the hose clamp and replace the spoon-PVC unit with brush-PVC unit. The soda bottle socket combined with a number of terminal devices can be seen here.

    Because the prosthesis is intended for light-duty activities, it is best suited to terminal devices for light-duty activities, such as the paintbrush, a sponge, spoon, or a passive cosmetic hand. Also, it is inexpensive enough to fabricate that instead of changing the terminal device several times, one could have many soda bottle prostheses with different terminal devices attached.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    This is a truly brilliant idea, with enormous potential. It seems that the heat gun (and electricity to run it) could be the weak link in some resource-poor settings. Does boiling water provide enough heat to deform the plastic? What about a pot of sand heated over a fire?

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    We previously tried this method using boiling water, but found it rather difficult to control. Hot sand also may prove to be more difficult to use, but we have not tried it yet. It seems that the following may be a possible solution: using a small stove and a metal funnel or metal can that is placed downside-up, the heat can be directed through a small opening, allowing one to heat the plastic bottle one area at a time, as would be done with the heat gun.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, it may also be possible to use the heat from a tail pipe of a running car. Many years ago, there was a TV program which showed a man using a metal box welded on top of the tail pipe to warm-up or cook his lunch while driving. This may offer another alternative for heating the bottle, but we are not sure how easy and cost-efficient this method would be.