Ever since users and groups of people began using 3D printing to make prosthetics more affordable we’ve been waiting for a time when these easily iterable devices would evolve from prosthetic limbs into bionic limbs. The startup Open Bionics was likely founded upon this objective and over time it has come closer to achieving it. With the release of the official Metal Gear Solid prosthetic/bionic version of its Hero Arm, it’s definitely getting closer.
The use of 3D printing to make artificial limbs serves two purposes: one is to make simple prostheses easily affordable say to children who rapidly outgrow them or to people in the poorest areas of the world who are often most at risk of amputations for a number of reasons that we will not get into here. The other is to make prostheses more complex and to rapidly develop new iterations, accelerating evolution.
Open Bionics’ Hero Arm is (probably) the world’s most affordable multi-grip bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and truly empowering aesthetics. Engineered and manufactured in Bristol, UK, the Hero Arm is a lightweight and affordable myoelectric prosthesis, available now in the USA, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand for below-elbow amputee adults and children aged 8 and above.
Each Hero Arm is unique and, from the beginning, Open Bionics made intensive use of 3D technology. In fact, the accessibility of 3D printing is probably what enabled a company like Open Bionics to emerge. It starts with a 3D scan of the limb to create the design that gets laser sintered in nylon 12. The full prosthesis is robust, and the innovative socket is comfortable, adjustable and breathable too, which means it’s easy to take on and off while providing the best possible fit.
Now Open Bionics have teamed up with Konami Digital Entertainment to release an official Metal Gear Solid “Venom Snake” bionic arm for below-elbow amputees. The new design clips onto Open Bionics’ Hero Arm
29-year-old Daniel Melville, who was born without his right hand and has been wearing a Hero Arm for over 3 years, is the very first recipient of the new Metal Gear Solid design: “This is unbelievable – he said – it’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a bionic arm. I’m an avid gamer and love Metal Gear Solid so much and to actually have Snake’s arm in real life is just insane.”
Venom Snake, the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, lost his arm in an explosion and wears an iconic red and black bionic arm complete with detachable missile functionality and gadgets to stun enemies. Whilst the Hero Arm isn’t equipped with weapons, it does feature a number of other “bionic” functionalities, such as special sensors that detect muscle movements to let users effortlessly control their bionic hand with intuitive life-like precision. Also, haptic vibrations, beepers, buttons and lights provide intuitive notifications.
Takayuki Kubo, President of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc., said: “We’re incredibly excited to collaborate with Open Bionics, who are at the cutting edge of robotics. We’re thrilled to see the iconic Metal Gear aesthetic of Venom Snake and his bionic arm burst out of the screen and come to life, in a dynamic fusion of technology and design that is changing the lives of upper limb amputees all over the world.”