“Around 95% of people will never have access to the prosthetics they need. Knowing that I've got the skills to solve that problem, that’s what keeps me going.”
Kate Walker is the creator of ExpHand, a 3D printed prosthetic for children. The prosthetic is adjustable and can grow with a child, giving ExpHand a much longer lifespan than other prosthetics.
“Prosthetics for children can be expensive, heavy and not designed for someone whose body is growing rapidly”, says Walker.
The ExpHand prosthetic costs around £50 to manufacture; normal prosthetics can cost anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000.
“We're 3D printed. So that means that we’re very lightweight compared to NHS prosthetics, which are made of much more traditional materials, and take a lot longer to make.”
“I just realised that kids' prosthetics weren't great”
Walker never had aspirations of setting up her own company, ExpHand Prosthetics only started because of a conversation with a very special young girl:
“I knew a little girl who was born missing part of her left arm, from the elbow downwards, and I got chatting to her. And yeah, I just realised that kids' prosthetics weren't great.”
At the time Walker was studying Product Design Engineering at Loughborough University and decided to create her own solution to this problem.
She designed the prototype as a part of her dissertation, and it received such a good reception that she turned the design into a business.
Nine months after starting the company, ExpHand had already won 5 awards and nearly £20,000 in prize money.
As well as being able to adjust the length of the prosthetic, ExpHand is modular, which means parts of the hand like the palm and fingers can be swapped out to fit a child as they grow.
“Our prosthetic is designed for people that have elbows and a little bit beneath them. The prosthetic straps around your elbow and any movement tightens the strings which move the fingers of the hand”, says Walker.
Central and East Africa
ExpHand has aspirations beyond the United Kingdom where there is a much greater need for affordable prosthetics.
“You're looking at 30 million people worldwide needing a prosthetic. And for our specific type of prosthetic, it's 1.5 million people”, says Walker.
There’s a particular need in Central and Eastern Africa for prosthetics.
“The stats are crazy. Around 95% of people will never have access to the prosthetics that they need. Knowing that I've got the skills to solve that problem is what keeps me going.”
ExpHand is now looking for investment to bring more expertise on board and launch their product later in the year.
The In-Focus interview series is a collection of articles commissioned by Atara Partners with some of the world's fastest-moving technology businesses and their leaders.
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