Open Bionics Pioneers 3D Printed “Hero Gauntlet” for Partial Hand Amputees

Open Bionics Pioneers 3D Printed “Hero Gauntlet” for Partial Hand Amputees

Michael Altheim, a 52-year-old former lorry driver from Frankfurt, Germany, has become the first person in the world to receive a groundbreaking 3D-printed prosthesis called the “Hero Gauntlet” from Open Bionics, a Bristol-based company.

The innovative device is designed for individuals with partial hand amputations or congenital limb differences, offering them a new chance at independence and functionality.

A decade ago, Altheim lost all four fingers of his right hand in a work-related accident when his glove got caught in the treadmill of an industrial machine while sanding a sports field. Since then, he has struggled with the limitations of previous partial finger solutions, which were heavy, minimally functional, and not waterproof.

The Hero Gauntlet, developed by Open Bionics, aims to address the shortcomings of existing partial hand prostheses. The custom-made device utilizes Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology for sub-millimetre precision, ensuring a tailored fit for each user’s unique limb presentation. The 3D-printed fingers strap onto the user’s palm and are controlled by wrist motion, allowing for gripping and holding objects. The device also features a BOA dial for on-the-go adjustments, enabling a reliable hold.

For Altheim, the Hero Gauntlet has been a revelation. He reported that the “new hand works perfectly without any delay” and expressed his amazement at being able to control the hardness of his grip. The device has already positively impacted his daily life, allowing him to hold a shopping basket while loading groceries with his other hand. Altheim also plans to use the Hero Gauntlet when fishing, bike riding, and performing DIY tasks.

Open Bionics claims that the Hero Gauntlet offers several advantages over previous partial finger solutions, including lightweight and robust construction, a waterproof and breathable design, and improved hand function. In a study conducted by the company, 100% of participants recorded an improvement in hand function while wearing the device. The company is working with insurance groups across Germany to make the Hero Gauntlet more widely available to partial hand amputees. They report receiving numerous requests from the limb difference community for a partial hand solution that offers function and comfort for all-day wear.

As the Hero Gauntlet continues to undergo trials, it remains to be seen whether this innovative device will live up to its potential as a game-changer for individuals with partial hand amputations or congenital limb differences. However, for Michael Altheim and others like him, the prospect of a more functional and comfortable prosthesis offers hope for greater independence and quality of life.


  • Open Bionics has developed the “Hero Gauntlet,” a 3D printed partial hand prosthesis
  • The first recipient is Michael Altheim, a 52-year-old former lorry driver from Germany
  • The Hero Gauntlet offers improved grip, comfort, and functionality compared to previous solutions
  • Open Bionics is working with insurance groups in Germany to make the technology more widely available
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