Case Study

Bebionic Prosthetic Hand

Some time ago, prosthetic experts, Steeper, approached RP Technologies and asked us to manufacture a myoelectric prosthetic hand.

This prosthetic hand would transform the lives of amputees around the world, helping them to regain independence and control of their everyday lives.

The Bebionic hand is modelled on an accurate skeletal structure. It is also constructed from a range of components which have been designed to provide the most true-to-life movements.

The hand marks a turning point in the world of prosthetics, as it perfectly mimics the functions of a real hand via 14 different precision grips. These grips enable amputees to engage in a range of activities that would have previously been unmanageable.

Following the success of the Bebionic hand, Steeper began to develop a miniaturised version, which was known, quite simply, as the Bebionic Small.

Bebionic Hand
The Brief

To develop and manufacture prototype and production components for a miniaturised version of the Bebionic prosthetic hand.

The Challenge

Steeper needed a manufacturer who could turn around complex parts without compromising quality. They also wanted to find a company who could manufacture aluminium tooling and injection moulded components under one roof – a one-stop, single source solution, so that they didn’t have the hassle and cost of sourcing multiple suppliers.

That’s when Steeper approached RP Technologies.

The challenge was to help solve the many technical challenges that accompanied the process of miniaturising these components for the purposes of plastic injection moulding.

With the miniaturisation of the original components, Steeper and RP Technologies had to review the wall thickness of all 9 parts to ensure that the components were suitable for injection moulding.

One of the main concerns with the thin wall sections was the flow length over the larger components.

The decision was taken that TPE should be overmoulded to an ABS substrate.

The problem arose because the TPE was so thin it didn’t carry adequate heat to form the chemical bond between the ABS and the overmoulding.

After considerable planning and development, the engineers at RP offered a solution which met Steeper’s specifications without compromising the component design.

Bebionic Hand
Bebionic Hand
The Results

The required modifications were made to the aluminium tooling and new samples were manufactured for approval.

RP manufactured and supplied Steeper with a number of components for testing and development.

Once Steeper had approved the prototype components, the design was signed off and Steeper placed an order for over 500 production parts for all 9 components.

Despite the many challenges posed by this very complex component and its design, we partnered with Steeper to ensure that high quality, repeatable mouldings were achieved in a short space of time, with every deadline being met along the way.

Ted Varley, Technical Director at Steeper, said:

“RP Technologies have been a vital part of the development process for the Bebionic small.

Their fantastic communication, flexibility, and technical solutions have meant that we’ve been able to produce an array of small intricate components that other plastic injection moulding companies would have had difficulty manufacturing.”

Darren Withers, Director at RP Technologies, added:

“It’s been great to work with Ted and the team at Steeper, and to provide components for such a life changing product.

We’ve really enjoyed the technical challenges which this particular project has posed.

Our ‘Without Limits’ philosophy has meant we’ve been able to supply complex, high quality components on time and which fit the customer specification.

It also pleases us that we’ve had the opportunity to manufacture a medical product which will be of so much benefit to so many people across the world.”

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