Joel needs a hand to raise £39k...

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 September 2013

Joel Gibbard who has launched a project to build low-cost robotic hands for amputees.

Joel Gibbard who has launched a project to build low-cost robotic hands for amputees.

Archant

AN ENGINEER from Backwell has less than 30 days to raise £39,000 so he can spend a year making robotic hands for amputees.

Joel Gibbard, aged 23, has created a low-cost robotic hand to make prosthetic limbs more accessible to amputees.

Robotic hands are not currently available on the NHS and they can cost patients around £60,000, including the cost of fitting and consultation charges.

Joel, who gained a first class degree in robotics at Plymouth University, said: “It’s an area of robotics and technology that’s really captured my imagination.

“The robotic hands currently available are way too expensive so I thought I’d try to make them cheaper.

“The Dextrus hand offers much of the functionality of a human hand.

“It uses electric motors instead of muscles and steel cables instead of tendons.

“3D printed plastic parts work like bones and a rubber coating acts as the skin. All of these parts are controlled by electronics to give it a natural movement that can handle all sorts of different objects.

“It’s still not quite a human hand replacement. You can’t do everything but you can grab all sorts of different objects and you can hold things with variable pressure.”

No fittings are needed with the robotic hand as it can just be clipped onto prosthetics available on the NHS, making the option a lot cheaper.

Joel, a former Backwell School pupil, left his job at National Instruments to work on the Open Hand Project.

His former employers have sponsored him by supplying him with equipment to test the hands he makes.

Joel has now launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise the cash he needs and is appealing for people to support the project in return for a reward.

He said: “The entire financial goal for the crowd-funding campaign is lower than the cost of one i-Limb from Touch Bionics, which is currently the most advanced prosthetic hand on the market.

“With this money I’ll be able to fund the project for a whole year, creating polished designs that can compete for functionality and dexterity at a price that’s 1/100th of the i-Limb.”

Joel has until midnight on October 9 to hit his financial target.

To find out more about Joel’s quest visit www.openhandproject.org or to donate to the cause log on to http://igg.me/at/openhandproject/x/2467988

You can also follow Joel’s fundraising progress at www.northsomersettimes.co.uk and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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