Design Reality

Designing forearm opening door handles to support the NHS

Forearm door handles

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB)

We’ve been working to support the NHS during the COVID -19 crisis through Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), our local health board.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd part of the BCUHB contacted us asking if we could print door handle openers that they had seen on the internet; these handles enable NHS workers to use their forearm to open doors rather than potentially passing a virus from hand to hand through normal opening.

The problem

Having reviewed existing designs, we discovered that they only worked with one type of door handle and the materials being used weren’t cleanable due to their porous nature. They also weren’t robust enough for heavy traffic.

We created a new product design solution to overcome these issues, including prototypes for testing and then submitted a final design for approval.

The design

The new design works on both vertical and horizontal handles as well as left and right handed doors. It was 3D printed using a medical bio-compatible Nylon 12 material.

Supporting the NHS

As our contribution to supporting the efforts of the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak we’re going to provide 100 free handles to the Betsi Cadwaladr team.


The handles are already being used within the hospital and will provide benefits in the current crisis but could also reduce the spread of other longstanding infections in the future.

If there are any other Health Boards who have any ideas for product design please get in touch ideas@designreality.co.uk

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