Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Craig P. Lusk, Ph.D.


Linkage-based fingertips, Stability analysis, SHAP test, Gripper, Hook


This thesis consists of the research on linkage-based fingertips for prosthetic hands. These fingertips consists of small polycentric mechanisms attached to what would be the pulp in normal anatomical fingers. These mechanisms allow the prosthetic hand to conform to the shape of objects during grasp. The goal of these prosthetic fingertips is to maximize the functionality of the hand while minimizing the number of inputs that the user has to control. The stability of the fingertip mechanisms is analyzed using the principle of virtual work. From this analysis we are able to show that the fingertip mechanism is stable for a large range of rotation of the link and for a large range of directions on which the force is applied, and that the mechanism is indifferent to the magnitude of the force applied to it (assuming that the force does not damage/deform the mechanism). To assess if the four-bar mechanisms (fingertips) improve the grasping capabilities in robotics and prosthetics, tests were performed on prosthetic hands and robot grippers with and without the fingertips. Comparisons were made using the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP) protocol, which tests the differences and measures the functionality of particular types of grasp, such as power, spherical, lateral, tripod, tip and extension. In the human testing, the overall Index of Functionality (IOF) of the Hosmer hook is 66.65 and 66.21 for the hook with the fingertips. The hook with the fingertips had a better IOF in the spherical and power prehensile pattern. When the IOF is calculated for the tasks that the fingertips were used, in 10 of 11 of the tasks, the IOF is higher than using the Hosmer hook. In the robotic gripper testing, the Index of Functionality was not be calculated because the time to perform the tasks depended more on the robotic control system than on the physical characteristics of the gripper.