A Helping Hand

What does it mean to give someone back their mobility? Amputees struggle against their body’s natural rhythm on a daily basis. Some tragically lose the ability to walk altogether, victims of a condition that cannot heal. Once gone, a person can only cope with their new life, and do their best with expensive prosthesis to fill the missing pieces in their life. However, the advent of 3D printing has ushered in an age of innovation and creation. Able to produce any design that comes to mind, the process of returning even the slightest bit of ease to the life of an amputee has made this process a resounding success.

The recent winner of the James Dyson Award for exceptional design and engineering work, Open Bionics is the focus of much-deserved attention from its peers. By integrating 3D-printing technology into their prosthetic designs, they’ve not only been able to cut costs but increased productivity.

In a world where an estimated 11 million people are amputees, Open Bionics is taking the first step toward making humankind whole again. After including 3D printing into their prosthetic production process, the time they saved meant Derrick Algerbetter prosthetics available quickly to those in need. Scanning the body to form a perfect joint, the process of socketing a prosthetic dropped from weeks to days. After myoelectric sensors are fitted, and the body of the prosthetic is designed, the user can lift, grip, and move the limb as if it were their own.

From solving a Rubik’s Cube with newly returned motor skills, or handling an egg with practiced dexterity, these devices are not only easier to produce but more advanced. Pressure sensors embedded in the skin of the prosthetics allow for the device to appropriate pressure when necessary. And a bevy of color choices and designs are available due to the method in which they are created. Dropping the cost from upwards of $50,000 down to only $3,000, Open Bionics has truly given the world a helping hand.