A Staffordshire University engineering student has used his skills to design an affordable prosthetic hand to help others like him.
BEng (Hons) mechanical engineering student Luke Cox, 26, was born with ectrodactyly, which means that his right hand is missing fingers. Despite being able to perform most everyday tasks, some still pose difficulties for him, which served as the motivation for his final-year project at Staffordshire University.
‘Growing up with a disability has made me a very determined and tenacious individual,’ Cox said. ‘This has enhanced my problem-solving skills as I have been forced to learn how to complete certain tasks in unconventional manners. I’ve never let it hold me back; I always find a way to push forward.
‘This was my main motivation to develop a hand prosthesis and having a subjective viewpoint enabled me to design more empathetically,’ he continued. ‘In my research, I found limitations in current prostheses, such as children regularly outgrowing and needing to update their devices.
‘Protheses can also be very expensive,’ he concluded. ‘For example, top-end prostheses with electric devices that use muscle signals can cost around £100,000. Even the more basic body-actuated models can be up to about £4,000.’
Cox chose key design features such as universality, modularity and affordability to directly combat this problem. His prosthetic hand is adjustable and has removable fingers, which means it should fit any shaped hand. It’s also made using low-cost processes such as 3D printing and resin printing.
Cox’s design features in GradEX23, an online portal of final-year projects from hundreds of Staffordshire University students, which can be viewed by prospective employers throughout the summer. However, Cox has already managed to secure a job before graduating.
During his studies, Cox was part of Staffordshire University’s SAMPID programme and did a placement with Trentham manufacturer Mirage Design and Build. He has used this experience to help secure a role with Derby-based train manufacturer Alstom.
‘The SAMPID placement gave me work experience whilst also getting paid,’ Cox said. ‘This gave me lots of great experience and examples to use in interview questions when applying for jobs. Having a job lined up before of graduating feels amazing! I’ve had recruitment agencies contacting me through the GradEX portal as well, which shows that it is a great way to get your work and skills out there to employers.’
You can see more final-year projects by Staffordshire University students on the GradEX23 portal.