Open Bionic’s “Hero Arm” is both advanced and affordable, thanks to 3D printing

Technology |  2 min. read

That’s a Hero Arm (two of them, actually).

That’s a Hero Arm too.

And that’s a Hero Arm.

Ok, so that’s what a Hero Arm looks like.  But what IS a Hero Arm?

High tech, lightweight, and custom-3D-printed to fit each person, Hero Arm is a prosthetic made by Open Bionics, a UK company.  Advanced software runs it, sensors in the arm “read” your muscle movements, motors move the fingers, so you can… open a bottle of water.  Play the drums.  Chop up food in the kitchen.  Ride a bike.  Drink from a glass.  Hold the Wii remote while you dance.  Pick up a sandwich.  Catch a ball with two hands.  Brush your hair.  Brush your teeth.  Shoot a bow and arrow.  Hold a saucepan with one hand and stir with the other.  Give a thumbs up.

It’s affordable, not cheap, but much less than traditional prosthetics.  It’s comfortable, made to fit, adjustable, and breathable.  Kids can wear it.  Adults can wear it.

That’s why it’s a Hero Arm.

And it’s a Hero Arm because it looks cool.  Because it takes something, a prosthetic arm, that can make a kid (even an adult) feel like she stands out in a not-so-good way, and makes her look and feel cool.

And what makes a Hero Arm?  It won’t be a surprise to learn that a high tech arm uses high tech materials.  One key component is a polymer, thermoplastic polyurethane, which begins with the petrochemical benzene.  The thermoplastic urethane is flexible, durable, and it works in a 3D-printer, a perfect fit for a Hero Arm.  For more rigid parts, polylactic acid is used, which is derived from ethylene through the intermediate acetaldehyde.

And if you’d like to know more, Open Bionics is based in the UK, but the Hero Arm is available here in the U.S. too.  You can find out more at Hero Arm.