Little could the young Joel Gibbard have ever imagined that those Meccano games he once used to play with as a child, would one day lead him to become Britain’s Design Engineer of the Year amongst other prestigious awards. Open Bionics, the Bristol-based company he founded, aims at providing low-cost robotic hands. I got to know Joel during the 3D Printshow in Berlin and attended to his interesting conference.
Only a few years after the Mecano games, whilst studying robotics, did Joel Gibbard start to grow a certain interest for prosthetics. It started, as he said, as an excuse for his professors to do a project on this particular topic, and not just because robots are fun and cool. There are an estimated 11.4 million hand amputees worldwide and usually, the costs for prosthetics are unaffordable for those who need them.
There, he realized that his hobby could have a real impact and change the life of so many individuals. The first prototypes he designed were made in aluminium.