Open Bionics wins £2,000 James Dyson award for 3D-printed robotic arm

Open Bionics which is behind custom-built, low-cost 3D-printed bionic arms for amputees, has been named as the UK winner of the James Dyson Awards.

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.

Open Bionics creates robotic arms that are around half the weight of other bionic arms in the market at a fraction of the price. Open Bionics devices can be produced in around 40 hours at a cost of less than £1,000 compared to typical bionic arms that are priced around £3,000 to £60,000.

Samantha Payne, chief operating officer at Open Bionics said they saw 3D printing - as well as other technologies such as 3D scanning and 3D modelling - as a good way to provide low-cost hardware.

Open Bionics' robotic arm is created as a skeleton with a 'skin' on top, which is also customisable with patterns.

"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," Payne said.

"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."

Around 6,000 major limb amputations take place every year in the UK, according to the NHS.