Samantha Payne of Open Bionics is Printing Replacement Limbs at Disrupt London 2016 | Summary and Q&A

December 6, 2016
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Samantha Payne of Open Bionics is Printing Replacement Limbs at Disrupt London 2016

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In this video, Samantha Payne, the Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder of Open Bionics, discusses the work her company is doing in the field of Bionic arms for amputees. Open Bionics uses 3D printing technology to create affordable and customizable prosthetic limbs that resemble the hands of superheroes. The company aims to provide individuals with limb differences, especially children, with prosthetics that not only restore functionality but also inspire and empower them.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is Open Bionics and what do they do?

Open Bionics is a robotics company that specializes in building Bionic hands for amputees. They use 3D printing technology to create cost-effective prosthetics that come in the style of superheroes. The company's mission is to provide amputees, especially children, with prosthetics that not only restore functionality but also make them feel empowered and inspired.

Q: How did Samantha Payne get involved in Open Bionics?

Samantha Payne started out as a journalism major but got involved in Open Bionics when she covered a crowdfunding campaign for a 3D printed robotic hand developed by her co-founder, Joel Gibbard. During her interview with Joel, he shared his vision of making advanced Bionic limbs affordable and accessible to amputees. Samantha was inspired by his idea and together they started Open Bionics.

Q: What caused the arms to take off during the "Make It Wearable" competition?

During the "Make It Wearable" competition, Open Bionics went through a Berkeley accelerator program, which helped them understand the importance of creating a product that meets the needs and desires of amputees. They realized that focusing solely on advanced functionality was not what most amputees wanted. Instead, they started co-designing bionic limbs with amputees, taking into account their preferences and ideas. This approach allowed Open Bionics to create prosthetics that reflected the personalities and interests of the wearers, thus gaining traction and popularity.

Q: What is the significance of 3D printing to Open Bionics?

3D printing plays a crucial role in Open Bionics' ability to create affordable and customizable prosthetic limbs. It allows them to produce prosthetics that have the advanced functionality of expensive hands at a much lower cost. By utilizing 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, the company can offer amputees the opportunity to download and print their own prosthetic arms, further reducing the cost and making the technology more accessible.

Q: How does the cost of Open Bionics' limbs compare to those produced by traditional robotic arm manufacturers?

Traditional robotic arms can cost anywhere from £30,000 to £60,000. In contrast, Open Bionics aims to make their prosthetic limbs available for around £5,000. While the exact cost of printing the arms at home is not finalized, the company estimates that the parts for self-printing currently cost around £400-£500.

Q: What are the next steps for Open Bionics in terms of product development?

Open Bionics positions itself as a robotics company that creates assistive technologies for individuals with mobility issues. While they are currently focused on bionic hands, their next steps involve adding a wrist and an elbow to their product lineup. They also plan to tackle the problem of upper limb prosthetics by developing prosthetics with a more dexterous and reliable control system.

Q: Are there any plans to expand beyond prosthetic arms?

Open Bionics sees themselves as a company that can develop a range of assistive technologies for people with mobility issues. In addition to lower limb prosthetics, they are interested in exploring exoskeletons for rehabilitation. They believe there is a large potential for more affordable and accessible robotic technologies in the medical field.

Q: Can Open Bionics partner with companies for other robotics applications?

While Open Bionics' main focus is currently on medical applications, they have been approached by companies interested in using their robot hands for robotics projects. While they are open to exploring these opportunities, they want to prioritize their work in the medical field for now.

Q: Are there any plans to work with the NHS (National Health Service)?

Open Bionics sees great potential in working with the NHS, as it is the largest healthcare network in the world. They are currently in the process of finalizing a developmental contract with the NHS through an organization called svri healthcare. This partnership will help accelerate Open Bionics' path to getting their products into the NHS and reaching a wider audience.

Q: What are the implications of the partnership with the NHS for Open Bionics?

The partnership with the NHS is significant for Open Bionics, as it allows them to access the massive healthcare market and potentially have their prosthetics funded for feasibility trials and further product development. The support and funding from the NHS can help Open Bionics expand their reach and impact more lives with their affordable and innovative prosthetic limbs.


Open Bionics is revolutionizing the field of prosthetics with their 3D printed Bionic arms. By making advanced functionality accessible and affordable, they are providing individuals with limb differences, especially children, the opportunity to not only restore their mobility but also embrace their uniqueness and express themselves through superhero-themed prosthetics. The partnerships with companies like Disney and the potential partnership with the NHS demonstrate the growing recognition and impact of Open Bionics' work. As they continue to develop and expand their product line, they aim to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide who have mobility issues, and potentially, reshape how we view and enhance our own bodies through technology.

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