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Manchester students offer amputees helping hand

University of Manchester students have clubbed together to develop a 3D printed robot prosthetic hand, in what has been hailed as a major breakthrough for amputees.

According to the NHS, around 6,000 major limb amputations are carried our each year in the UK alone. At the moment advanced robotic prosthetic limbs start from around £25,000, going up to £60,000 if bought privately.

The new design is 87 times cheaper with a hand being built for just £307.

The robot hand is the brainchild of Alex Agboola-Dobson, who developed the product in the final year of his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering.

Alex said:

Not only do we want to make it affordable, we want people to actually like the look of it and not be ashamed or embarrassed of using or wearing it.

Some traditional prosthetics can both look and feel cumbersome or, those that don’t, are extremely expensive.

The design comes with bluetooth connection and an Android app, with the hand controlled by muscle sensors placed on the wearer’s arm that can be paired to the app.

Alex added:

We think our design really can make a difference and we will be looking to commercialise the project in the future.

The innovation has already received the royal seal of approval, after shaking hands with Prince William when it was showcased at the International Business Festival this summer.

It also won ‘best new development’ in the Digital Innovation Challenge at the Industry 4.0 Summit & Expo, and was nominated for a James Dyson Award.

The hand allows users to do simple everyday tasks such as eating using a knife and fork, opening doors, and using a computer.

The students hope to make the production of the robotic hand even cheaper in the future, including for people who need it in developing countries.

Image by the University of Manchester