Open Bionics Uses 3D Printing to Help Children Without Limbs Become Bionic Superheroes

Welcome to Thomas Insights — every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on what’s happening in industry. Sign up here to get the day’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox.


The industry has just begun to scratch the surface of 3D printing’s true potential. Specifically, additive manufacturing has made tremendous strides in the medical industry, from 3D printing patient-specific medical models for surgeons to practice on to organs built with human cells. Additive manufacturing has also democratized the prosthetic industry and given patients, not just options for prosthetic limbs, but the opportunity to customize them to their needs and even style in a lightweight, more comfortable design.

Open Bionics is a new company based out of the U.K. that has developed the Hero Arm, an advanced, lightweight, 3D-printed bionic arm that has multi-grip functionality as well as the ability for users to make aesthetic choices. The arm can be fit to anyone as young as eight years old and any adult who has a below-elbow limb difference.

The arm has a number of alluring features, like six different grips to help perform everyday tasks and a wrist that can rotate 180 degrees. Perhaps the company's greatest differentiator is its MagSwap Removable Covers, 50 different magnetic cover styles that help patients personalize their arm.

The company has partnered with companies like Disney to make the arms more kid-friendly. For example, they offer a Star Wars BB-8-inspired design, R2-D2, and even Iron Man and Black Panther. The covers are truly cool. Open Bionics also uses 3D printing to create unique cover shapes and patterns, only achievable using additive manufacturing.

The prosthetic can also be adjusted to tighten or loosen the fit as the arm expands and contracts throughout the day, and it has a 3D-printed flexible vent liner that helps conform to the arm's shape. The liner is also made to be breathable, which helps keep the limb cool when wearing the device.

The Hero Arms are engineered and manufactured in the U.K. and are now available in more than 800 locations in the U.S. and around the globe.

More from Industry Trends