You have to hand it to them!

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Two University of Bedfordshire academics who have made 8-year-old William Joyner a new hand using state-of-the-art 3D printing will be talking about their breakthrough at the MKEX Technology Exhibition in Milton Keynes next Wednesday.

Left handed Will, from Towcester, who was born with the fingers to his dominant hand missing, has been able to hold a pen for the first time and draw a picture. He has been able to move his new hand using signal from muscles in his arm.

David Jazani Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, and Mark Hooper a technician and demonstrator who is currently studying part-time for a PhD in Computer Science at the University, were contacted by Will’s mother, Jo, just over a year ago.

Mark explained: “Jo had found a design of a hand online made by scientist in Africa. She wanted to see if we could adapt it.

“It was brilliant but we wanted to see if we could make it less clunky and more usable for a young boy. Also we wanted incorporate the use of William’s thumb to make the hand as dexterous as possible.”

There are still some adaptations to the hand to be made. It needs to be able to withstand the everyday activities of an eight year boy; and there are plans to insert lightweight aluminium rods and to use titanium hinges.”

Will’s mum Jo is over the moon. She said: “It means Will be able to do the same things as other children. He’ll be able to do complex things like tie his laces but also simple activities like holding a drink in one hand and an ice lolly in the other.”