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University graduate scoops James Dyson award for prosthetic hand

Published: Saturday, 29 August 2015   Category: All Graduate Jobs News

Plymouth University graduate Joel Gibbard has won the James Dyson Award after developing a 3D-printed prosthetic hand.

The robotics graduate has created a new artificial limb that costs a fraction of the money needed to produce current prosthetic designs.

Costing less than £1,000 and with a production time of only 40 hours, his design is seen as a viable, and more affordable, alternative to more advanced robotic prosthetics that can cost up to £60,000.

Mr Gibbard said he was inspired to create his design by a six year old girl who lost her limbs to meningitis and who refused to use hand prosthetics due to their ugliness and weight.

He revealed that financial barriers are a major issue for those requiring prosthetic limbs as the only alternatives are a cosmetic hand that has no function or a hook.

However, Mr Gibbard said he can 3D print a robotic hand for fraction of the price of other robotic alternatives, a factor recognised by the award.

The low-cost product can perform the same tasks as advanced prosthetics, including the ability to use individual fingers via sensors that are stuck to an amputee’s skin.

It could potentially provide an affordable solution for some of the people who require major amputations every year.

Winning the prestigious James Dyson Award has scooped £2,000 for Mr Gibbard, who has plans to invest the prize money into a new 3D printer.

He will also be the UK entry at the international Dyson awards which will take place later in 2015 – the prize for the winner is a whopping £30,000.

Work to develop the prosthetic hand began while Mr Gibbard was at university and continued once he graduated with first class honours.

A crowdfunding project for the design raised £44,000 several years ago which was then put into the launch of a business named Open Bionics.

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