Wounded hero with 3D printed hand

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Taylor Morris Wearing Open Bionics Hand

A quadruple amputee in the US has become the first wounded soldier to wear a 3D printed bionic hand that was designed in the UK.

Taylor, who lost his limbs in an IED blast whilst serving in the military in Afghanistan, and his friend Neal have spent the last two months working on the Dextrus V1.2, - an affordable bionic hand prototype.

Neal, an engineer from Iowa, decided to 3D print a robotic hand for his friend with the goal of developing a prosthetic that was more functional and easier to use than Taylor’s current one.

Neal started by 3D printing Joel's Open Hand Projects' open-source Dextrus design with the Da Vinci 1.0 3D printer. He then fit Taylor with the bionic hand and completed his first proof of concept. It was important for Neal to test the prosthetic fit and see if Taylor could control the bionic hand.

Taylor can be seen in the video moving the Dextrus fingers by flexing his residual muscles which are covered with EMG sensors.

The engineer now plans to redesign the arm for its first full-featured build by adding a 2-axis wrist, an elbow strap with push-button tension adjustment, and additional programming to allow for switching between several grip modes.

Neal said: “In its completed form, this arm may not end up being the go-to for daily usage compared to the professional-made prosthetics that Taylor has, but that’s fine because this project will have served as the test bed for trying out new features and creating a control program to work as easily and intuitively as possible.”

“The next time Taylor is having a professional-made prosthetic arm put together, he will be able to provide this 3D-printed arm as an example of every feature and program behavior that he will want the new arm to include.”

“For our 3D-printed arm having cost between 1% and 2% of what his last prosthetic arm was, there won’t be any excuse for it not to have all of its features. The use of 3D printing and open-source programming to enable rapid prototyping at low-cost, combined with having an open-source hand design like the Dextrus available to work with, have been crucial to making this project a reality.”

Neal believes in working open-source and plans to share his adaptions and upgrades to the Dextrus design with the maker community.

Joel, who designed the Dextrus during his Open Hand Project crowd-funding campaign, said he was happy to see so many researchers using his open-source developments to make strides in prosthetic technology.

Joel added: “This was always the goal, to release my designs and have incredible engineers like Neal take them and adapt them for their own purposes and to help someone else. It’s awesome to think a design I worked on in my bedroom at my parent’s house has been downloaded and built by people I’ve never met across the world.”

"It's great that Neal is sharing his designs and ideas too. This is the fastest way to creating better prosthetics for the people who need them everywhere."

Here Neal tests the 3D printed hand's functionality and control with his own arm.

If you want to 3D print your own Dextrus, the files are waiting for you on Intructables: Dextrus V1.1 Robotic Hand.

Inclusive Technology Prize

Open Bionics has been named as one of the 25 innovations that will make the UK more accessible to the 1 in 5 people with disabilities.

25 designers and entrepreneurs have been shortlisted out of 200 pitches for the Inclusive Technology prize, and are now in with the chance to win a £50,000 prize for a technology, product or service that enables disabled people in the UK better access to life’s opportunities.

The Inclusive Technology prize judges said they were inspired by the inventive ideas put forward.

Joel Gibbard, Open Bionics CEO, said: "We decided to enter the Inclusive Technology prize because we want to make a difference with our 3D printed, robotic hands for amputees everywhere. We believe there's a huge need for affordable robotic prosthetics and we think we can help by using emerging technologies like 3D scanning and 3D printing to bring the cost down.

"We're not just focusing on the functionality of the device, we're focusing on making 3D printed hands that amputees will enjoy wearing. We want them to be fashionable, inspiring for children, and even have a few extra capabilities to one-up the human hand. We're constantly working with amputees to develop these desirable devices."

Human hand holding bionic hand

Inclusive Technology prize judge, Jess Thom, said: “Judging the competition so far has been inspiring, as there have been lots genuinely exciting products and inventive ideas that make the best use of technologies available to us, and can help to increase accessibility for the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK.”

The prize seeks to foster the next generation of assistive tools and technologies that will make a real difference to the 1 in 5 people living with limiting long term illness or disability in the UK.

The shortlist has been selected by a judging panel including comedians Jess Thom, who has Tourette’s syndrome, and Laurence Clark who has cerebral palsy, as well as Alan Norton, CEO of Assist charity and Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK among others. The shortlisted organisations and individuals will receive mentoring and support from Leonard Cheshire Disability, the UKs leading charity supporting disabled people.

Gemma Bull, Managing Director Enterprise and Innovation for Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “We are very excited about working with Nesta and mentoring the competition entrants through the Inclusive Technology Prize. This is a fantastic opportunity to develop innovative technology which supports disabled people to lead more independent lives.”

The 25 semi-finalists take part in the mentoring stage of the competition in March, April and May this year, and ten finalists will be selected to develop prototypes ready for impact testing throughout 2015. The winner of the £50,000 contract will be announced in March 2016.

The challenge will encourage all semi-finalists to innovate through co-creation with disabled people, meeting needs as defined by the users themselves.

The Minister of State for Disabled People Mark Harper said: “Innovative technology can make a real difference to the lives of disabled people and I’m delighted that the Inclusive Technology Prize has inspired all of these cutting edge ideas.

“Supporting disabled people to live full lives and enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else is an absolute priority for us and I am confident that advances in technology will continue to enable us to do more. I wish all the nominees the best of luck.”

The full shortlist can be seen at www.inclusivetechprize.org

A bionic model is born

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Over the past few years the personalisation of healthcare devices has been a growing trend in the maker-sphere.

From gold-plated hearing aids, neon walking sticks, and sparkling blade prosthetics to 3D printed arm casts, people with disabilities are no longer waiting for health services to catch up, they are dragging their medical devices into the future on their own.

These medical aids are getting a long-awaited makeover and today it's the turn of the bionic hand with Open Bionics unveiling of their latest 3Dprinted prosthetic at London's 'Wearable Tech Show'.

Open Bionics, a startup of four based inside the Bristol Robotic's Laboratory's Technology Incubator, has 3D printed a custom-fitted bionic hand with enough sparkle to rival a disco ball for a woman born without a hand.

Grace Mandeville modelling open bionics robotic hand
Bionic hand holding human hand

Grace Mandeville is a YouTube starlet and CBBC actress who applauds the growing popularity for diverse prosthetics.

Grace has taken to YouTube on multiple occasions to discuss diversity and her love of inventive prosthetics that can show off a bit of her vibrant personality.

Grace said: “This is my favourite thing about this whole topic. I really love fashion, and therefor 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.”

“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 arms cool and I know”.”

Grace Mandeville wearing bionic hand

Open Bionics' COO Samantha Payne said that the idea behind the Swarovski hand was to show off 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.”

“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.”

“The idea is to give hand amputees more option 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.”

Grace Mandeville giving thumbs up with open bionics robotic hand

Grace's sister, Amelia Mandeville, said that having an attractive prosthetic could help turn something that is seen as 'negative into a positive'. Amelia echoed her sister's stance for having the option to stand out, asking “Who wants to be the same?”

Grace Mandeville Open Bionics Arm

As Grace eloquently puts it, “Why try to blend in? When you can have a piece of art as an arm instead?”

Grace was given a traditional cosmetic prosthetic when she was little and has one now but says, “I never wear it, I don't like wearing it, it gets in the way.”

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.”

“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.”

“I don't ever wear prosthetics because I don't feel like I need to. I would however absolutely love a bionic hand like this for events and evening's out. I love fashion and this looks incredible.”

Open Bionics is still developing their robotic prosthetics and hope to be selling 3D printed hands within a year.

Open Bionics has won multiple awards for their open source 3D printed robotic hands and was recently named as one of the Top 50 international robotics companies to watch along with Google.

Video of Grace taken at the show by a Robin Fearon:

Read more on 3Ders3D Print Industry, and 3D Print.

Robotics mission in Japan with Prince William

Two Bristol-based robotics startups have been chosen to represent 'the best of British innovation' in Japan this week.

The 'Innovation is GREAT' campaign was opened by Prince William in Tokyo earlier today.

The robotics trade mission, put on by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), will hear from inventor Joel Gibbard, of Open Bionics, and Reach Robotics founder Silas Adekunle.

Both Joel and Silas, whose businesses are based inside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory's Tech Incubator, will showcase their inventions. 

Silas will demonstrate his spider-like 'battle' robot at the opening campaign event, and Joel will present his latest 3D printed robotic hand.

The UKTI hopes to strengthen the working relationship between academics and businesses in Japan and Britain.

A spokesperson for the British embassy said Joel is proof that 'harnessing entrepreneurial skills and design principles can lead to the development of life-changing products.'

The campaign is designed to to drive innovation, research and development, and commercial partnerships between the academic and business sectors.

A spokesperson from British Embassy said: "Great ideas flourish in Great Britain. The highest standard of universities, a well established business environment and governance, government support and incentives help make creative ideas come to life."

The UK is known for its entrepreneurship and spirit of innovation. Our discoveries, inventions and ideas have a profound impact on the world. Famous entrepreneurs include James Dyson and Richard Branson, and famous British inventions include the worldwide web, the automated teller machine (ATM), the wind-up radio which has helped share vital information in protecting against infectious diseases, and the wonder-material graphene.

Joel Gibbard demonstrating bionic hand in Japan

'Innovation is GREAT' is a year-long campaign by the British Government to build partnerships between the United Kingdom and Japan to lead positive social change in the future. The British Embassy Tokyo is launching its campaign on the occasion of the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to Japan by showcasing the best of British innovation at a series of launch events.

Joel will also give a talk at the University of Tokyo later this week about how design and innovation can be used for social change. Find out more here: http://www.leadership.m.u-tokyo.ac.jp/events/4941/

Open Bionics makes Top 50 robotics list

A South West startup has been ranked amongst Dyson, Google, and Panasonic as one of the Top 50 robotics companies to watch in 2015. 

The international RBR50 list named Open Bionics as one of the most noteworthy companies in the global robotics industry for 2015.

The Open Bionics Team

Chosen by the robotics community through the Robotics Business Review (RBR), RBR50 companies are recognized based on their innovation, groundbreaking application, commercial success and potential, and represent many different levels and facets of the robotics ecosystem.

Open Bionics was considered for their groundbreaking work into 3D printed robotic prosthetic hands.

Joel Gibbard, Open Bionics’ founder, said: “Looking at the list and seeing our startup’s name feels incredible. Pretty much every single company on the list is a company I have aspired to work for in the past and certainly aspire to match in their success in innovation in the future.”

This international compilation spans 11 countries and in addition to the large conglomerates, 20% of the list is comprised of lesser-known startups. The RBR50 list is dynamic, with robotics companies entering and leaving on an annual basis and thus creating a list that is indicative of where the global robotics industry as a whole is headed.

“2015: Year of the Inflection Point in robotics. What a great time to be counted among the global best in the fastest rising industry in the world. Once again, the robotics community has done a stellar job in selecting those few to represent all,” says Tom Green, RBR Editor in Chief.

With the robotics industry more competitive than ever, new companies are popping up all the time. Of those companies, the RBR50 list outlines those who should be kept on your business radar. 

This is the latest international recognition for the Bristol-based business after a string of recent award wins including ‘Best Product Innovation,’ at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Video: An early prototype being tested, the first time anyone has been fitted with a custom-fit robotic hand created with a 3D printer and 3D scanner. 

Top TAZ tips for 3D printing

I've been using LulzBot printers ever since they started selling them and have had a lot of experience with my Lulzbot TAZ printers. Here are a few top tips for 3D printing on them, they are printer specific, but may also be of use to people using other machines.

1. Bed Adhesion: Rough the bed up a bit. If you have the standard TAZ PET bed (green tape) you'll need to give it a good sand down. Get some P600 sandpaper and sand it it a circular motion. This combined with "Lulzjuice" (Acetone mixed with a bit of ABS) will give you a great first layer adhesion. If instead you have the new TAZ 5 with PEI bed you shouldn't have this problem at all, it works great.

2. Nozzle Clogging: Paper towel+ peg as shown in picture. This cleans the filament of any dust or particulate as it enters the extruder, minimizing the chance of the nozzle clogging. I learnt this one from the Strooder guys!


3. TAZ fan mount: Find our fan mount on Thingiverse. You may need to purchase the fan extruder add-on from lulzbot for about $25. The mount they provide directs air towards the print, which improves print quality because the plastic dries faster, especially where overhang is steep. My fan mount also directs some air at the nozzle heat sink, which prevents the heat creeping up the filament during slow or long prints which can sometimes cause an extruder jam.

Happy 3D Printing folks!

Most Advanced 3D Printed Robotic Prosthetic

Scroll down for a video of the world's most advanced 3D printed robotic prosthetic hand in action.

During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, Open Bionics trialled their latest 3D printed robotic hand by custom-fitting it to a man born without a right hand and have him wear it for five days straight.

Robot hand with Human hand

Daniel, aged 24, and his robotic hand were such a hit at CES that after he featured on SnapChat's live feed he received a marriage proposal.

Daniel, Open Bionics' first pilot, said of the trial: “I was feeling pretty emotional being there because it has been an amazing thing to be a part of. Because I was born without a hand, essentially I've been learning to use a hand for the first time, it's really surreal. I kept shaking hands with people, and they kept asking to high-five, fist-bump, and take photos with me. It was really nice seeing how people reacted to my robotic hand, nobody shied away and I felt like I was making up for lost time.”

Open Bionics' latest robotic hand, which is now half-the weight of current robotic prosthetics, won Computer Bild's prestigious 'Best Product Innovation' award out of all the products exhibiting at CES2015.

Dan Melville robotic high five

The Bristol-based company now plans to re-design the hand to enable the prosthetic to lift heavier weights, close its fingers around smaller objects, and enable better grasping.

The inventor of the hand, 24-year-old Joel Gibbard, said: “Another thing we're working on is making the robotic hand completely wireless. Our next step is to have a fully integrated hand that is one unit. It has to be so easy-to-use that Dan can just pick it up, put it on, start using it immediately without any wires, and then re-charge it at night.”

A hand amputee can currently operate the hand by sticking electromygraphical sensors to the skin that pick up muscle activity. An amputee has to flex their residual limb muscle to tell the robotic hand to open and close.

For Dan, this was an easy process, he said: “I just put the prosthetic on, plug in the battery pack, and stick on the EMG sensors. It's great at picking up the muscle signals. I'd say it took me about two minutes to get used to it and the sensors didn't stop working for the whole trip.”

robotic handshake with bionic hand

Daniel gave feedback during the week which will lead to certain advancements and a better functioning robotic hand.

Joel added: “It was interesting to watch someone adjust to wearing a bionic device, in the way that they used it naturally, and without thinking about it. Seeing Dan wearing the hand was a motivator because I saw that he could actually use it, and that it would be a benefit to him, just like we hoped it would. We could also see clearer the issues with it, that we now have to solve. It's a big push forward for us.”

Joel plans to drive the cost of robotic prosthetic devices down to under $1,000 by using 3D scanning to fit amputees and 3D printing to produce the prosthetics. He has previously 3D scanned an amputees' residual limb, 3D printed a custom-fitting prosthetic, and fit to a person in under five days.

Joel,who was recently named 'Britain's Design Engineer of The Year' has been shortlisted for Semta's 'Engineering Hall of Fame' for his groundbreaking work into 3D printed robotic prosthetics. Vote for Joel to win here: http://www.semta.org.uk/hall-of-fame-2015-shortlist

Open Bionics at CES 2015

In just eight months Open Bionics has grown from a one-person, crowd-funded idea to a three-person startup that has attracted investors and technologists worldwide, and now the Bristol company is off to showcase their work at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

CES 2015 Open Bionics

From January 6th to January 9th, Las Vegas becomes the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.

This year CES will host seven wearable technology startups from the finals of Intel's 'Make It Wearable' competition, including Open Bionics. You can say hi to the team in the Intel booth at CES (LVCC, Central Hall Booth #7252).

A representative from Intel said Open Bionics had created products that "blend visionary thinking with business value."

The spokesperson added: "Intel aims to inspire and create excitement with CES visitors by showcasing - through technology demonstrations like these - that the future of wearable computing is boundless."

The Open Bionics team, Joel Gibbard, Sammy Payne, Vitória Maurício and Daniel Melville, will showcase their latest robotic hand which is now half the weight of leading robotic hands.

The company's open source work is already benefiting people globally. So far, Open Bionics' Dextrus hands have been 3D printed in the U.S.A., Canada, Ukraine, Scotland, and Australia.

Recently students from a university in Illinois, U.S.A., 3D printed a Dextrus hand for an amputee in Ecuador.

Founder Joel Gibbard said: “We were over the moon when Intel invited us to showcase our advancements at CES. It's an incredible opportunity to be on the world stage showing how innovative technologies can be used to change lives and help people."

Joel added: “We have a feeling new advancements in the field of wearable technology will be taking centre stage this year. It's going to be an exciting trip.”

Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy, Consumer Electronics Association, said: “CES is becoming known as the key event for innovative startups to increase their exposure and become successful.”

CES showcases more than 3,500 exhibitors, including manufacturers, developers, and suppliers of consumer technology hardware. More than 150,000 people from more than 140 countries attend the gathering.

Many world-changing technologies have been unveiled at CES, including driverless car technology, electric car technology, 3D HDTV, 3D printing, and more.

This year will see more revelations for 3D printing, from the latest 3D printers to 'living' 3D printed dresses.

Founded in April 2014, Open Bionics has received multiple awards for its groundbreaking work in 3D printed robotic prosthetic technology.

Founder Joel Gibbard, was recently named 'British Young Design Engineer of the Year' at the British Engineering Excellence Awards, 'Founder of the Year' at The SPARKies, and has been shortlisted for Semta's 'Engineering Hall of Fame' award sponsored by Rolls Royce and Jaguar.

Open Bionics has been shortlisted for a number of technology awards and won a cash prize for Britain's 'Best Startup Business Idea'. The company also recently won the 'Prosthetic Innovation of the Year' award from the Limbless Association and placed 2nd in Intel's global 'Make It Wearable' competition, winning $200,000. The startup was publicly backed by Limbcare earlier this year.

Open Bionics hopes to work with more hand amputees and families of young amputees in 2015 after being inspired by six-year-old Charlotte Nott.

5 crowd-funding tips

1) Don't think it's all about the money

“You approach a crowd-funding platform because you need money to realise your dream. But, what you receive from a campaign is so much more than financial backing. The Open Hand Project campaign created this amazing community of people who are still supporting the project a year on. We were backed by over 1,000 people and that is an incredibly important validation of what we're trying to do. Your backers are the people who set you up for so many opportunities in the future. They're invaluable.” - Open Bionics founder, Joel Gibbard.

Dextrus Hand Open Hand Project

Open Bionics was born out of The Open Hand Project, Bristol's most successful Indiegogo campaign. The campaign raised over £40,000 to fund the development of 3D printed robotic hands.

2) Don't wait for the shares

“The key to a successful campaign is in the back campaign (prep). Kickstarter will help with letting people know about your campaign but don't rely on it. Use social media to find your market across their various hangouts and bring them onto your project page. This should be carried out online in the form of forums, blogs and news sites and in the physical world at local shows or community spaces.

Don't Lie, too. Kickstarter backers come from a variety of places but a key market they attract is early adopters. They have backed projects before and know what to look for, they know the technology and can identify weak points. Use this to your advantage by pulling from them their experiences. They will love to help, and respond well to good communicators.” - Omnidynamics co-founder, David Graves.

Kickstarter to fund their first product called Strooder. The Strooder campaign asked for $20,000 and was funded in 11 hours. They raised over $60,000 by the end of their campaign.

3) Don't assume anything!

“Don't rush the preparation and make sure the project has been planned and costed in detail beforehand. Risk assess and think through consequences of problems and things not going to plan as this will be inevitable!” - Agilic founder, Harry Gee.

it's first product, Tiddlybot, through Kickstarter and raised over $10,000 more than their goal. View the campaign page here.

4) Don't hit that 'go live' button just yet

“Timing and preparation is key: Make sure you know everything about your manufacturing costs, timeline and margins before you launch. Once you take crowd money, you owe them the product you promised.” - Reach Robotics founder, Silas Adekunle.

[Ed: Great point, learn from this... The Ring]

the world's first gaming robots. The company was set to launch an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign this month but delayed it.

5) Don't wait for the publicity to roll in

“If you're new to social media pick at least one platform and master it. This could be Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or YouTube. Communication is key for a successful campaign so post regularly, stay positive, and stay away from online arguments or controversy. Expand your reach by getting involved with established online communities whether that's through RoboHub, IEEE Automaton blog, or another outlet.” - Robohub president, Dr. Sabine Hauert.

Robohub is a nonprofit platform where users can share news with the technology community, it has also partnered with two successful campaigns to fund robotics products.

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