Mar. 13, 2015

Open Bionics, a Bristol, UK-based startup that focuses on designing and developing low-cost 3D printed bionic hands has unveiled today a Swarovski-studded hand, their latest 3Dprinted prosthetic at London's 'Wearable Tech Show'. The Swarovski hand was created for actress Grace Mandeville, who is known for The Sparticle Mystery.

Grace is a YouTube starlet and CBBC actress and was born with a foreshortened right arm. "Being born with one arm, I have never really seen the point of myself using a prosthetic arm," said Grace. But she loves inventive prosthetics that can show off a bit of her vibrant personality.

Grace says, "This is my favourite thing about this whole topic. I really love fashion, and therefore dress to illustrate my personality, so being able to wear a creative prosthetic that shows who I am seems awesome- it's like a one-off accessory that nobody else can wear, basically like vintage Chanel." She adds, "You should be proud of what makes you different, and I think being able to wear a fun-looking prosthetic is something to be proud of! You're basically saying to the public 'my arm's cool and I know'."

Open Bionics' COO Samantha Payne said that the idea behind the Swarovski hand was to demonstrate the possibilities for prosthetics within 3D printing.

Samantha said: "We printed Grace a socket and robotic hand in three days, and because 3D printing is so affordable we can add Swarovksi crystals and create something really eye-catching that will not break the bank. We also added four fibre optic wires to the socket so that whenever Grace closes her hand, a blue light would shoot up her 3D printed arm."

"Prosthetics are entering the realms of fashion and we wanted to show how bionic prosthetics can be functional and fun." She continued.

"We've been very experimental with Grace's hand. This is a completely new socket design and this is the first time we've experimented with placing the EMG sensors above the elbow. Grace is actually controlling her hand by the muscle signals from her back."

Grace is very excited about her new arm. "I love fashion and this looks incredible." she said. "I found the hand really easy to operate, I tried it on for the first time Monday and I could control the hand straight away. I thought it was going to be really heavy but it wasn't. I obviously still feel the difference, I was born with a foreshorten forearm so wearing anything is going to feel different and will always be an added weight."

Payne added, "The idea is to give hand amputees more options and a choice to have something they'd get some enjoyment out of wearing. We've been told a lot by amputees that they want something that will get a compliment not a strange stare, something far away from a 'flesh' coloured prosthetic."

Open Bionics says they are still developing their robotic prosthetics and plan to begin selling 3D printed hands within a year.

Grace said: "I love what Open Bionics is doing. So many people at the 'Wearable Tech Show' thought I had a hand and that I was wearing a fashionable sleeve, making some kind of fashion statement. I had to keep pulling my arm out and showing people that I wasn't wearing some kind of glove but an actual bionic arm."


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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