3D printed bionic hand fitted to first patient

BEEAs winner Joel Gibbard has successfully fitted his low cost, 3D printed bionic hand to a 23-year-old UK man born without a right hand.

The inventor, who was recently crowned Young Design Engineer of the Year at the 2014 British Engineering Excellence Awards, performed a world first by fitting Reading-based Daniel Melville with a 3D scanned and 3D printed, custom-fitted prosthetic socket and robotic hand. In just 20 minutes, Gibbard scanned Melville's right arm using a 3D sensor, created a 3D mesh of it and set up his 3D printer. The printing process took just 40 hours. "This is a dramatic reduction in time and cost for the prosthetics industry," he noted. "It was heartwarming to see something I've been working on for a year give someone some extra capabilities. "Watching Dan write, pick things up, and just play with stuff was pretty exciting for everyone. I did get to shake the hand I made for Dan and it was a bit surreal." Gibbard created the bionic with the goal of making robotic prosthetic hands more accessible to amputees. He now plans to reduce the weight of the first prototype by 50% and create new, quirkier designs that he hopes will encourage younger amputees to feel good about their difference. "I'm not going to be able to stop until I've made something that is perfect," he continued. "It has to be lightweight, low cost and creative. It has to make a real difference."