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The winner of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge is announced

18 September 2012

A Preston-based group of BAE Systems apprentices has been declared the winner of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge for its BedFleX patient recovery aid.

BAE Systems Apprentice Team Leader, Sean Gallagher with his team's BedFleX device

BedFleX stormed to victory in the final leg of the Challenge after being on display for the final week of the Make it in Great Britain exhibition at the Science Museum, where members of the public were invited to vote on their favourite of five finalists, all of whom had previously been recognised as best in their category. 

BAE Systems won the public vote for its BedFleX, which is an elastic attachment for use by recovering amputees and critical care patients which allows them to take part in bed-based exercise to aid rehabilitation. As winner of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge, BedFleX provides a great example of pioneering and cutting-edge innovation, and of British manufacturing creativity at its very best. 

Using an innovative attachment, BedFlex enables patients to secure resistance tubing to a stable object (such as the bed) without the risk of the elastic slipping or coming undone – a common problem with existing physiotherapy tools which use resistance tubing.

Alongside BedFlex, other finalists of the competition included a new technology which could offer relief to tinnitus sufferers, an eco-friendly alternative to everyday cement that could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent and a pushchair that can be folded down to a 32 litre-size rucksack.

BAE Systems Apprentice Team Leader, Sean Gallagher (pictured with the device) said: “It’s really exciting that our product is creating continued interest. It’s fantastic. Right from the start we set out with a different approach when we first started the challenge. We simply thought: what’s the solution; what’s needed; what can we produce? We kept it simple. The fact that we have been voted the People’s Choice as part of the Make it in Great Britain exhibition just adds more momentum to the story.”

He added: “We are all thrilled that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is now trialling the device. The early response from them was: ’How many can we have?’ I think what has really helped us is that we have used what is known as additive layer manufacturing, or 3D printing, to make the device. It meant that we could easily change the design and material qualities when we were developing the prototypes. It has also meant we have been able to supply devices to both the Science Museum and the Hospital with relative ease.

“It all just goes to show that, sometimes what appear to be the simplest solutions – are the best.”

The BAE Systems apprentices will receive an award for their success at the Best Factory Awards 2012, taking place later this month. 

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