March 7, 2024

The Bristol Hero turning disabilities into superpowers

Bristol-based Open Bionics have developed and manufactured the Hero Arm; the world’s first clinically approved 3D printed bionic hand for people with below elbow limb difference.

Whilst most myoelectric limbs are available only to adults, the Hero Arm is designed with both adults and children in mind. The Hero Arm can be used from as young as eight years old, making it the world’s only multi-grip bionic arm for children.

The Hero Arm is also one of the cheapest multi-grip bionic arms in Europe. It is one of the multi-grip devices available via NHS funding, subject to meeting the criteria set by NHS England. Alternatively it can be funded privately or through crowdfunding.

What is it made of?

Open Bionics use 3D scanning and printing, to create the Hero Arm. All 3D printed parts are made from tough Nylon 12, and the breathable liner is made from elastomer which is soft and flexible. The manufacturing process and materials allow the Hero Arm to easily conform to the shape of the users’ arm while the adjustment dial allows the frame to be tightened or loosened to get the perfect fit.

Weighing less than a one kilo bag of sugar, the Hero Arm is the lightest multi-grip bionic hand on the market. Despite its featherweight status the Hero Arm packs a punch and can withstand loads of 48 MPa (nearly 7,000 psi).

The aesthetics

Inspired by science fiction, and tasked with empowerment, the Hero Arm is unapologetically robotic and allows its users to showcase their uniqueness.

There are over 50 magnetic custom prosthetic covers available for the Hero Arm, from sleek single colour covers to Art Deco, Aztec or Harlequin inspired patterns to covers inspired by computer games and films. Thanks to savvy partnerships with Disney, Konami, Fox, and Eidos-Montréal, users can work their own magic with their very own BB-8 arm.

How easy is it to use?

The myoelectric function means that use of the Hero Arm is intuitive and within an hour of being fitted users can pick up and drop a ball, hold a pen, enjoy a drink or hold their dog’s lead.

Open Bionics’ Sidekick app further helps the users to get the most of their Hero Arm by providing real-time tracking and feedback as well as training videos and guides. Progress can be shared, and the user can engage in interactive challenges to really get to grips with their Hero Arm.

The Sidekick app can be paired with the users Bluetooth for greater personalisation including adjusting the volume and LED brightness and checking battery power.

How does the Hero Arm work?

Sensors detect electrical signals generated by muscle contractions in the residual limb and those signals are then converted into movements in the bionic arm to form the desired grip or gesture.

The Hero Arm has six grip types to facilitate daily tasks including picking up small or thin items, holding items and shaking hands or making gestures such as ‘okay’ or ‘thumbs up’. The wrist can be rotated through 180 degrees or placed into freeze mode, locking the position of the hand to safeguard against accidental drops or spillages.


Every Hero Arm user becomes part of the #BionicSquad community, and it is clear from this community that Open Bionics is succeeding in their mission to turn disabilities into superpowers.

Bionic Squad members showcase their ability to carry out activities of daily living from holding a coffee in one hand and opening the door in another, to delicate tasks such as knitting or carrying out electrical wiring. The Hero Arm becomes a part of them.

Bionic Squad member Kate says “When I wear my Hero Arm, I feel empowered and proud to show it off. Natalie adds “I think it looks amazing. I think it’s beautiful”.

Open Bionics

The Hero Arm can be tried for free at the Open Bionic headquarters in Bristol or by attending one of their Hero Arm Experience Days where the clinical team, engineers and members from the limb difference community offer their insights.

In 2023 Open Bionics launched the Hero Flex, a fully ventilated and waterproof 3D printed activity arm compatible with over 50 terminal devices. The Hero Flex is strong but retains the lightness of the Hero Arm, allowing users to do a range of activities from weightlifting to kayaking, from playing the drums to playing hockey.

What’s next for Open Bionics?

In Summer 2024 Open Bionics will be launching their Hero Gauntlet, a new bionic partial hand prosthesis, and have hinted at an industry game-changer to follow at the tail end of 2024.

Want to find out more about our Injury experts in Bristol?

Contact our enquiries team to find out more about how our claims specialists can help people living in Bristol.

Call today

More from our Injury team

View more articles related to Injury and Team Around the Client