Minerals and ingenuity combine

25th Sep 2014

A robotics graduate has won the James Dyson Award for a 3D-printed prosthetic hand that costs a fraction of current artificial limbs.

Joel Gibbard, a robotics graduate from Plymouth University, has designed a prosthetic hand that can be produced in 40 hours; and with a price tag of less than £1,000, it is seen as an affordable alternative to more advanced robotic prosthetics, which can cost between £30,000 and £60,000.

The 25-year-old said he was inspired by a six-year-old girl who lost all her limbs to meningitis and wasn’t using any hand prosthetics because she found them too “ugly” and “heavy”.

“The problem of current robotic prosthetics is their financial barriers. The only alternative to a robotic prosthetic is a cosmetic hand that is functionless and heavy, or an alienating hook,” said Bristol-based Mr Gibbard. “I can 3D print a robotic prosthetic hand inspired by comic books and superheros that hand amputees enjoy showing off for a fraction of the price.”

Around 6,000 major limb amputations are carried out in the UK each year, but most prosthetics are unaffordable to the average patient. Mr Gibbard’s low-cost robotic hands are able to perform the same tasks as advanced prosthetics, including individual finger movement through the use of sensors that are stuck to the amputee’s skin.

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Source: The Telegraph