Open Bionics has been named as the UK winner of the prestigious James Dyson Awards for the design of its custom-built, 3D-printed bionic arms. The Bristol-based startup will receive £2,000 and will be put forward for the £30,000 international prize, set to be announced in November.
The methods used by Open Bionics to create the robotic arms mean they are around half the weight of existing bionic arms and a fraction of the price. Currently, prosthetic amputees pay anything from £3,000 to £60,000, while Open Bionics devices can be produced in around 40 hours at a cost of less than £1,000.
"We wanted to make low-cost bionic hands and a really good way to do that was through 3D printing and other 3D technologies like 3D scanning and 3D modelling," Samantha Payne, chief operating officer at Open Bionics, told IBTimes UK earlier in 2015. "We wanted to make a bionic hand that wasn't trying to pretend to be a human hand, we wanted to make something that was better and more fashionable and more daring."
Runners up of the national James Dyson Award included a kitchen waste unit capable of separating fat, oils and grease from water, as well as a device that enables near perfect text-to-speech translation.
Around 6,000 major limb amputations take place every year in the UK, according to the NHS. Many of these amputees struggle to adapt to their injury and current prosthetics have been proven to contribute to depression and anxiety.
"By using rapid prototyping techniques, [Open Bionics CEO] Joel [Gibbard] has initiated a step-change in the development of robotic limbs," James Dyson said. "Embracing a streamlined approach to manufacturing allows Joel's design to be highly efficient, giving more amputees' access to advanced prosthetics."