The world’s first clinical trial of 3D printed bionic hands for children starts in Bristol this week and if successful will see the affordable prosthetics provided on the NHS.
The hands, manufactured by Open Bionics, will be cheap enough to be supplied to the NHS and could provide an affordable prosthetic solution to amputees who would otherwise need to buy from private mobility providers.
The firm will be able to apply for a £1 million grant to roll the product out if the trial is a success.
This is one of the first times 3D printing has been applied to a mobility product but if it proves successful it could pave the way for the future of the industry, some experts forecast. The mobility industry, like almost all industries, will not be immune from the changes 3D printing will likely bring.
Open Bionics was only founded four years ago by 26-year-old Samantha Payne, who is hoping to provide a cheaper prosthetic solution and make bionic limbs more accessible.
The South Gloucestershire company has already won the James Dyson gong for innovative engineering and is hoping to revolutionise prosthetics.
It thinks it can produce a personalised bionic hand for under £5,000 and much quicker than private providers, which have a price point of around £60,000 for a multi-grip bionic arm.
The firm has a deal with Disney to supply Iron Man, Star Wars and Frozen themed bionic arms.