Handpan is a term for a group of musical instruments resulting from a growing worldwide interest in the Hang, an instrument invented and built by the company PANArt Hangbau AG.
This expression first appeared online in the fall of 2007 on the website of an American steelpan producer Pantheon Steel. It was used to describe its own development of a new instrument which was launched as an alternative to the Hang.
Consequently, this term found its way into discussions in the defunct Hang-Music Forum on the Internet. The successor of this forum was founded in 2009 and was called handpan.org. The expression handpan found wide circulation especially in the context of this forum.
The first four instruments, which are generally included by the term handpan, were Caisa (2007), BElls (2009), Halo (2009), and Spacedrum (2009). Today, many handpan builders have entered the market and offer instruments that vary widely in material, manufacturing techniques, shape, sound and quality. 
Discussion about the term
The term handpan is controversial. Critics point out that the Hang, which all makers of handpans use as a standard model, is essentially defined through its difference from the steelpan. Furthermore, the term pan is used for the national culture of the steel bands in Trinidad and Tobago, to which neither the Hang nor the instruments called handpans bear any relationship. Supporters stress the necessity of a generic term. They advocate that handpan is a suitable and well-understood new term for the abbreviation of a steelpan played by hand. It has become a conventionalized expression among those who are interested in these kinds of instruments. 
An alternative sometimes used is Pantam. Pantam, is said to be a combination of the words: Pan, and Ghatam. Two instruments that are noted, as being an influence in the creation of the Hang.
The Hang makers of PANArt, Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer, reject the expression handpan to describe the Hang. "To state it clearly and precisely: we do not make percussion instruments, handpans or hang drums."
- "Home page of www.pantheonsteel.com.". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- "Sub-forum "New hand pan development" by the Hang-Music Forum.". Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- "handpan.org/forum/". handpan.org. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- "handpan.org sub-forum Meet the Family". handpan.org. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
- World Map of handpan makers
- "What is a handpan?". Discussion about the term on www.hangforum.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- "Newsletter PANArt, May 19th, 2010". hangblog.org. 2010-05-19. Retrieved 2013-08-17.