E-nabling The Future

A network of passionate volunteers using 3D printing to give the World a "Helping Hand."

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PROSTHETISTS MEET PRINTERS – e-NABLE CONFERENCE AT JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL • 9.28.14

We are pleased to announce the FIRST  e-NABLE Conference!

Join us on September 28, 2014 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD!

“e-NABLE’s collaborative approach to design and democratization of 3D-printed prostheses could significantly improve millions of lives worldwide. Now is the time to bring these technologies and practices into mainstream medicine.” – Dr. Albert Chi – Trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical, Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Reserve and world-renowned researcher on state-of-the-art prosthetics.

Back in July, Dr. Albert Chi invited four of e-NABLE’s core members to visit his lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital to teach him how to create our 3D printable prosthetic devices and learn more about what we are doing.

During our visit we were blown away by the advanced technology that he uses every day to train his patients how to control high tech robotic arms with their minds, eyes and muscles…and we were shocked and delighted when we watched him break out into an enormous smile and let out a giggle of joy as he picked up a $50 3D printed plastic hand and watched it move by just bending the wrist.

Dr. Chi not only works as a leading trauma surgeon, but he also has a heart for helping the people around the world that desperately need care. A few times a year Dr. Chi visits Haiti where he volunteers as a surgeon to repair damaged limbs from the devastating 2010 earthquake as well as those who require amputations due to infection and other traumas. He wanted to change the lives of thousands of people, worldwide, who could never in their wildest dreams afford a commercially made $30,000-$50,000 prosthetic and saw the potential for a mechanical hand that costs $50 to build – to make that dream possible.

But how do we get more medical professionals like Dr. Chi and prosthetists interested in 3D printing mechanical hand devices? How do we introduce them to the incredible crowd-sourced e-NABLE designs? How do we teach them how to make these hands so they can begin putting them on patients who could never afford a commercially-made prosthetic device?

• We have a conference to introduce prosthetists to the 3D printing world.

• We SHOW them our designs and introduce them to the global e-NABLE community.

• We walk them through how to assemble a device – step, by step.

• We invite children who are missing fingers and hands and their families to attend  and teach them how to create their own devices as well as introduce them to prosthetists and the medical community – so they can see just how much these $50 hands can do.

• We introduce prosthetists to the collaborative innovation practices of e-NABLE, and we learn from them about ways we can increase options for them and their patients.

JOIN US for our first e-NABLE conference!

Prosthetists Meet Printers: Mainstreaming Open-Source 3D printed Prosthetics for Underserved Populations

Sunday, 9.28.14

Johns Hopkins Hospital – Baltimore, Maryland

Crowd-sourced collaborative innovation is changing the face of modern medicine. e-NABLE, a global online community of humanitarian volunteers is leading the way by designing, building and disseminating inexpensive 3D printed prosthetics.

Come join the e-NABLE organization and thought leaders in medicine, industry and public policy for a ground-breaking, industry-defining event at Johns Hopkins Hospital that will include the delivery of donated prothetic hands to children with upper limb differences.

We will unveil the new e-NABLE 2.0 hand, developed by Ivan Owen, Peter Binkley and Frankie Flood – the world’s first crowd-sourced, crowd-developed prosthetic  that incorporates the collective intelligence, learning and experiences of e-NABLE’s online global community, parents and children who are using the devices themselves.

Anyone is welcome to attend.

Come learn about the future of 3D printing technology and the medical field, why the prosthetics industry should welcome this technology and get more information on policy issues and the upcoming FDA regulatory workshops in October.

You will have the opportunity to learn how to create a device, meet vendors and get information on various 3D printers and will get to witness children receiving their first 3D printed hand devices created just for them by our e-NABLE volunteers.

We are making history and changing lives. We invite you to join us!

REGISTRATION & TICKETS: Visit our Ticketing page.

SCHEDULE: Visit the Scheduling Page.

SPEAKERS:  Learn more about our speakers!

SPONSORS: If you our your company would like to become a sponsor – please visit our Sponsor’s Information Page.

Thanks to generous sponsors, families with children who have a need for a device as well as Veterans and Wounded Warriors – will be able to attend the conference for free.

INFO: If you would like more information on this event – please visit our press release page HERE.

PRESS: If you are a member of the Media/Press and would like to be invited to cover this event live or help us spread the word about the as-yet-to-be-announced highlights – please email us at enablepressrelease@gmail.com.

QUESTIONS: For more information – please email info@enablingthefuture.org.

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Ultimaker Donates $10,000 Worth Of Printers To e-NABLE – To Help Create 3D Printed Prosthetics For Those In Need!

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“Since the very first time Ultimaker saw the light of day, we have supported open source. We shared our source files and our community gave us feedback…it is our firm’s belief that sharing knowledge does not mean losing knowledge. On the contrary, we learn from each other, inspire each other and use each other’s knowledge to create even better products and develop impressive innovations world-wide.”
– Ultimaker (Via 3D Printing Industry)

Over the past year, e-NABLE has gone from 70 people who signed up on an online map as volunteers to donate printer time to making 3D printed prosthetic hands for kids in need – to a global community of over 1400 volunteers who not only offer to make parts for hands, but who are also assembling them and shipping them off to children and adults they may never meet (for free!), creating designs and sharing them open source so others can use them and build off of them and re-share once again and some are doing “the little” background stuff that often goes un-noticed.

Sometimes, we find ourselves being contacted by individuals who share the same heart for open-source (the sharing of ideas and knowledge)  that we do…and who just happen to own companies that are run by people with a heart for making a difference in the world around them.

We are pleased to announce that Ultimaker has generously donated $10,000 worth of 3D printers to e-NABLE in an effort to help create hands in areas around the globe where they are needed the most. There are many places in this world where a single 3D printer and sharing the knowledge of creating low cost 3D printed hands – can allow a parent to be able to go back to work and provide for their family once again or allow a child to have the opportunity to feed themselves or help tend to daily chores that their family relies upon them for.

Their donation and their printers will help us reach more places and people who are in need of devices and will also help us to continue to plug away on prototypes and designs as we work on growing our ever increasing open-source library of upper limb devices.

Ultimaker is a proud sponsor for our  upcoming e-NABLE conference at Johns Hopkins Hosptial on September 28th, 2014. They will not only be bringing 4 of their printers to the conference with them to help churn out fingers, palms and gauntlet pieces for hands – but Co-Founder, Erik de Bruijn will be speaking as our Gold Sponsor guest speaker during dinner. He will share his thoughts and experiences on the importance and value of open-source sharing.

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One of their printers has already been delivered to Dr. Albert Chi’s lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital for use in creating devices for some of his patients there so that he can give e-NABLE feedback and advice on how to improve these devices and designs to better suit the needs of his patients. His input is invaluable as an expert in the area of high tech prosthetics and as a trauma surgeon.

Please join us on September 28th, 2014 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore – where we will bring 21st century technologies, practices and philosophies to prosthetists, parents and patients alike.

We are making history and changing lives. We invite you to join us!

REGISTRATION & TICKETS: Visit our Ticketing page.

SCHEDULE: Visit the Scheduling Page.

SPEAKERS:  Learn more about our speakers!

SPONSORS: If you our your company would like to become a sponsor – please visit our Sponsor’s Information Page.

Thanks to generous sponsors, families with children who have a need for a device as well as Veterans and Wounded Warriors – will be able to attend the conference for free.

INFO: If you would like more information on this event – please visit our press release page HERE.

PRESS: If you are a member of the Media/Press and would like to be invited to cover this event live or help us spread the word about the as-yet-to-be-announced highlights – please email us at enablepressrelease@gmail.com.

QUESTIONS: For more information – please email info@enablingthefuture.org.
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9 Year Old Spends Summer Assembling 3D Printed Hands

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When she is not climbing trees, chasing frogs, reading books, creating “art explosions” all over the house or having sleepovers with her friends like other 9 year olds on summer vacation, Torrae Owen is sitting at the dinner table next to her dad, Ivan Owen – assembling 3D printed mechanical prosthetic hands for children and adults in need of “a helping hand.”

After watching the story about another little girl named Sierra that started making these e-NABLE hands, Torrae decided that she wanted to learn how to make hands for other children who were born without fingers too- so “they can hold their papers while they try to draw, ride their bikes easier, hold a jar to put newly caught grasshoppers in and  be able to hold a juice box in one hand while eating a fried chicken leg with the other when they have fun summer picnics with their families. Things that are easier to do with 2 hands..you know?!”

So rather than plopping down for another hour  in front of the computer to build various things in her ever evolving Minecraft world – she chose to help her dad build something that could actually help another real live person …instead of spawning more chickens to dump on un-expecting intruders heads when they try to enter her lava hut.

“It feels really awesome to make things for people that make them happy but it feels even better to know that it could actually change their life a little…I like making people happy.”

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Torrae spent a couple of hours sanding down parts, stringing finger cords, screwing the cable guides onto the palm pieces, sewing on the velcro strap, cutting out foam padding and hammering the snap pins in place. There are still a few things she needs help from Mom and Dad for (Drill press, adding palm leather and that pesky hot glue gun!) – but this is the second hand she has helped create and she can’t wait to make another. She however, has high hopes that future designs will become even more kid friendly to assemble so that she can sit and put one together all by herself and teach her friends how to make them too.

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This “Ody Hand” design that Torrae helped build – is going to a little boy in Hawaii who was born missing fingers.

“I really do wish they would make some fingers that have those cool Sticky hand things that could just shoot right out of the finger tips and grab stuff and bring it back to you! Or maybe….fingers that shoot silly string! But ….I would want one for me too.”

In the next week, she plans to help her dad make another 3 hands for 3 boys and then she will get to help deliver the devices to them in person!

“I want to keep making hands for people. Its fun and it makes me happy to make other people happy.”

Isn’t that what we should all live by?

Making things that can help others because its “Fun.” and it “makes us happy to make others happy?”

Sounds like a great way to make the world a little brighter place!

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If you are in the Baltimore, MD area and would like to learn how to create one of these devices for yourself, your child or someone you know – please consider joining us at the e-NABLE conference at Johns Hopkins Hospital in September for our hand assembly workshop – where e-NABLE volunteers, (including Ivan Owen – Torrae’s dad)- will be there to walk you through the assembly of our hand designs and once you are finished – you can take your completed hand home for free!

We are excited to start teaching more families how to make these devices for themselves!

For more information – please visit our event page!

INFO: http://enablingthefuture.org/prosthetists-meet-3d-printers-press-release/
TICKETS: http://enabling3dpp2014.sched.org/
SCHEDULE: http://enabling3dpp2014.sched.org/

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Giving A “Hand Up” – With Partial Finger Replacement

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Last October, a US Navy Veteran and retired pipe fitter, Howard Kamarata, was working on a home project and the miter saw he was using grabbed the piece of wood he was holding and threw it toward him and his left hand slipped under the blade.

He had cut off four of his fingers, just above the middle knuckles and the surgeons were only able to save the pinky finger, leaving him with 3 nubs where his pointer, middle and ring fingers use to be.

A week or so after the accident, Howard’s wife, Pat, encouraged him to get out of the house and attend a church function with her. That is where he ran into Casey Barrett, an industrial designer who had seen a video of a little boy named Liam – using a 3D printed hand that had been created for him by two men – Ivan Owen, a prop maker in the USA and Richard Van As, a carpenter in South Africa.

After their initial hand design had been created and shared open source, Ivan had gone on to work on other projects and started collaborating with the e-NABLE community on making other designs.

There was a woman named Nancy, that lived near Ivan who had lost part of her thumb due to disease and he had been working with her to create a partial thumb design for her to be able to play the thumb harp with her prominent hand once again – and with her help and the help of another local man, B.J., who had lost his fingers in an industrial accident –  he created the “Partial Finger Prototype” design.

Ivan uploaded the files for the prototype and instructions to his thingiverse page and hoped that someone would come along and improve the design for others who may want to try them – that person was Casey Barrett.

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Casey found the files that had been uploaded and started putting together a partial finger prosthetic for Howard with a glove from home depot, some high strength fishing line and screws.

Howard tells us that living in Arizona, the glove was just too much to handle in the heat – so Casey got to work on designing a new version that would remove the need to secure the hand plate to a glove. They acquired some splint material and glued it directly to that and is using medical grade neoprene for padding.

Casey and Howard are now working on creating 3 segments in the fingers as well as experimenting with the flexible materials used in the Flexyhand design. We are looking forward to seeing their results!

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For now – Howard says that he is learning how to do something new with his fingers almost every day. He can pick up cups and water bottles, play cards with his friends, carry and balance plates once again and many other tasks he didn’t think would be possible after losing his fingers.

Howard and Casey aren’t stopping at just making a set of replacement fingers for just Howard – they have partnered with Matt Augee of the RecFX Foundation – with the hopes of creating 3D printed prosthetic fingers and hands for those in need – with a focus on helping Veterans and Military families at no cost.

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Please click the image above to watch a video interview with Howard, Casey and Matt about their project.

They are calling it “The Hands Up Prosthetic Project.

For more information on the RecFX project – please visit their website.

This is the power of the open source community.

Sharing of ideas…giving designs away so that what starts as something that can help one person….can find it’s way to someone else who can use it to help another…and watch it spread and change lives.

We look forward to seeing where this design is in another year and how many Wounded Warriors and others it may help!

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Introducing the “Flextensor” – A New e-NABLE Design!

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Over the past year, we have watched ideas spring forth from one basic design and turn into numerous variations and devices. One of the most active designers in the e-NABLE community is Peter Binkley who is the brilliant mind behind the Talon and Ody hands and has now released another incredible design that he has named “The Flextensor.”

As you can see in the images above and below – it does not require the wrist to use force to pick up items as it has removed the need for elastics. The hand was able to hold objects without any assistance of a hand or wrist inside to “Power” it – including a completely full and unopened bottle of water.

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Peter writes:

“In the summer of 2013, my son Peregrine and I saw a video of Liam, a little boy who was born without fingers on one hand, just like Peregrine. He was wearing a mechanical 3D printed hand and using it to pick up objects. We downloaded and printed off a Snap-Pin Robohand and fitted it to him by cutting and heat-bending the plastic parts, then mounting them onto a leather “shoe and sleeve”. Thus began our journey with open-source assistive devices. The fingers close via cables that run on the front side of mechanical fingers, and they open via elastics that run in channels on the back side of those fingers.

After wearing and using his new hand, Peregrine started making suggestions to improve the design. One of his first wishes after fitting the hand was to somehow reduce or eliminate resistance as he closes his hand. To grasp something small requires a lot of sustained force, since the five elastics fight back with a high level of resistance and that resistance increases as the hand closes more.

And the problem worsens down the road, since most elastics quickly degrade, especially under stress. As elastics lose their springiness, they need to be shortened to effectively open the hand – which increases the problem of ramping resistance and decreasing the distance of stretch before the elastics “bottom out.”

I started looking into ways to reduce or eliminate resistance.

Continue reading

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e-NABLING Alex

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Little Alex Pring has had his new 3D printed arm for just about a week and after hugging his mom, riding his bike and playing with his favorite transformers – he has been discovering all sorts of things that having 2 arms is useful for!

Today, his mom sent us a few photos of Alex doing things that many of us take for granted every day. Things like being able to carry two bags of “lunch” around at the same time -or for that matter, eating a sandwich with one hand and holding your drink in the other!

Alex was able to channel his inner NASCAR driver and cruise around the grocery store with both hands on the wheel and he discovered the joy of being able to open the library book return box with one hand while dropping the book into the slot with the other.

These things may not seem very big to those that have always had two fully functioning arms and hands – but to kids like Alex – it’s HUGE.

Alex’s mom, Alyson, writes – “He has only had the arm about a week. He does really like wearing the arm out and about because now people are not looking at his little arm, now they are looking at his cool NEW ARM! and that makes him very happy. I have to say, honestly, the biggest use so far is CONFIDENCE! That makes all the difference in his world. He is happy to be different instead of being fearful of the negativity that the difference brings. He is excited to face it head on. He has met a new friend with a similar “little arm” and he is very excited to know someone in our town…before all of this, we never knew each other – but because of the news stories – we found each other.

There are no words for the way I feel at this moment. To see your child this happy about something he almost feared for a long time – is amazing. He used to introduce himself as “Hi. I’m Alex and I’m born this way.” That made me sad that he immediately put up a defensive wall just so others wouldn’t ask that question of “Why?” 

You never want to see your child struggle with people picking on him and that is something that he dealt with a lot – so to finally see all of the positivity coming from his arm instead of the negative that he got before – is great! We will take every day, one day at a time – because he will learn something new with this arm every day – not just things that will make life easier, but the way it will make him feel!” 

More and more – we hear from parents that the biggest improvement to their child’s life after getting an e-NABLE device – is increased confidence. That they go from being the “different” kid that gets picked on – to the “cool kid” with the arm that all of the other kids want to have.

While it is wonderful to hear that these devices are improving their lives in ways we hadn’t considered when we started making hands for children  – it is still disheartening to know that they often feel bullied and belittled by other children because of their differences.

We hope that someday – e-NABLE doesn’t just represent a global community that has come together to create plastic hands to put on children – but that this thing we are….the people we are….this thing we are doing together.…will become much bigger than putting $10 in formed plastic on a child to make them feel like a superhero… we hope it starts to represent a new way of treating our fellow human beings – reaching out to those who are “in need of a helping hand” and being willing and WANTING – to do our part to make someone’s life a little easier.

It may not be a big thing… but to the person that receives the kindness from a stranger…it is HUGE.

“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody that needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks or what they choose to do – but I can do my bit.” – Charles de Lint

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3D Printed Myo-Electric Arm Design – Now Available For Free!

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6 Year old Alex – checking out how his $350 Myo-electric arm works. – Photo by KT Crabb Photography.

Just a few days ago, a team at the University of Central Florida, put a 3d printed myo-electric arm on a 6 year old child. It cost them about $350 to create and is now a part of the growing number of 3d printed devices that have been released for free to the world through the e-NABLE community of over 1300 global volunteers world wide. You can read more about Alex’s story here.

The team at University of Central Florida has now released the blueprints and parts lists online for free – under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial license. Please keep in mind that this is a prototype and as of today – has only been worn by one child and we do not have any cumulative data about safety, durability and function! We do however, hope to get a few more beta testers to try these out with the guidance of their physicians and will start publishing our research and findings soon!

If you are interested in making one of these devices – you can find everything you need to make one listed below!

3D Printable files can be found here: THING 408641

Parts list can be found HERE.

Instructions can be found HERE.

For an update on their story: Please visit their website!

If you create one of these for yourself, someone you know or a child – please email us and let us know how the process is going, how the arm is functioning and any feedback you can give that will help to make these devices cheaper to produce and add comfort for the user!

The world is an amazing place when people come together to make a difference!

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“Limbitless” – 6 Year Old Gets $350 3D Printed Myoelectric Arm.

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“My mother taught us that we’re supposed to help change the world…We’re supposed to help make it better. That’s why we did it.”
- Albert Manero, UCF Aerospace Engineer – on why he created a 3D printed robotic prosthetic device for 6 year old Alex Pring. 

When you are 6 years old and you  have finally come to that moment where you  just found yourself  slowly shuffling your feet down the hall toward your first day of kindergarten…backpack heavy with school supplies and snacks …trying to figure out if you are holding too tight to mom’s hand or if she is holding too tight to yours…and then you stand in the door to peer around and see the faces of the children you will spend the next 10 months with..you usually expect to get asked who your favorite super hero is, which video games you play or how many teeth you have lost already.

For Alex Pring, who was born missing his right arm from just above the elbow – those were the last questions he was faced with. His least favorite part of starting school, was repeatedly having to answer the question, “What happened to your arm?”

Alex prides himself on the fact that he accepts himself for who he is, the way he was made and that he can do a whole lot of things that kids with two arms can do… but admits that now that he is getting older and growing – some things are becoming harder to do.

Now, thanks to Albert Manero, a University of Central Florida Aerospace Engineering Doctoral student and his team – Alex has the first 3D printed e-NABLE Myoelectric arm that runs off of servos and batteries that are actuated by the electromyography muscle energy on Alex’s bicep!

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While Alex can do quite a few things he hasn’t ever been able to do up until this point now that he has a robotic arm … the first thing he wanted to do when he learned how to use his new limb – was to give his mom a hug with two full arms for the first time in his life.

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Manero and his team, manufactured the arm for less than $350 and they will be uploading their design and instructions on how to build the child-sized arm and hand to the internet so that anyone with access to a 3D printer can get the files and give another child the same opportunity that Alex has.

Albert is one of e-NABLE’s hidden gems. He introduced himself back in July of 2013 and shared that he was planning to take the original 3d printable snap together prototype design and improve upon it … and then… a year later he is a part of our new myoelectric group – sharing with them his incredible knowledge and letting them know that he has taken various design ideas from the e-NABLE community and the Flexy hand design by Steve Wood of Gyrobot (also a member of e-NABLE!)  and turned them into the first myo-design for Alex!

In the fall, when Alex walks down the hall toward his classroom for the first day of 1st grade – he will not be timidly shuffling his feet across the carpet…he will not be worrying about the awkward stares of his new classmates or their curiosity about the absence of his right arm…he will be ready to answer that “Who is your favorite super hero?” question with a very proud – “ME.”

For the full story about Albert, Alex and the $350 3D printed myoelectric arm design – please visit the University of Central Florida’s blog HERE.

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All images by the very talented KT Crabb Photography!


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Letter From An Expectant Father – e-NABLING Hope.

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We recently got this beautiful message in our inbox from an expectant father who just returned from their  first ultrasound imaging appointment to see his unborn child.  His words to the e-NABLE community hit me hard…we really are making a difference – even if it is just giving “Hope” to one parent who is faced with a challenge they weren’t expecting. Read his heartfelt letter to the e-NABLE community of volunteers, below:

“Dear Enabling The Future,

I am writing to say thank you!

Three weeks ago, at our twenty-one week baby scan, we were told that our unborn baby will be born without a full left hand. The ultrasound showed our baby may have a wrist and a small paddle without fingers. Emotionally, this was a shock that we were not prepared for, however, I am optimistic about our family’s future and how we will meet the challenges ahead. 

I found your web site and have been reading about your work. It is inspirational and I am heartened by what I have read concerning the technology, the caring nature of the people involved in design and production and the young children who have benefited. Knowing that this work is happening…it almost makes having a limb abnormality kind of cool. It has helped me to emotionally deal with what is ahead. For this – I thank you.

Kind regards,
“Expectant Father”  – New Zealand”

The hours that our volunteers spend designing, creating, blogging, sharing files, collaborating, matching families with volunteers, record keeping, working Makerfaires and events, meeting with doctors and prosthetists, researching and doing all of the behind the scenes work that no one really ever sees – is not just done for the children who are already blessing this planet with their smiles and determination – but it is done for the children to come.

We are still in the early phases of this 3d Printing technology. The e-NABLE community is but one year old – but we have accomplished so much already – that I have no doubt that by the time that this little one and his/her “Lucky Fin” is toddling around  and exploring the world – there will be so many more options for them to choose from – thanks to a global effort of people from all walks of life – who give their time and resources to bring hope to people who need it the most.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others, that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Nelson Mandela

For more information on Amniotic Band Syndrome, the Lucky Fin Project, Born Just Right and other upper limb difference resources – please visit our info page.


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e-NABLING FUN With 3D Printed Hands!

Every once in a while, we get a special treat from some of our families who have received an e-NABLE 3D printed hand.

Sometimes we get an email with updates on how they are doing and what they have been trying to do with their new devices, sometimes we get photos of children using their hands and every once in a while we get some fun video clips of the kids in action!

This is little Liam from South Africa – riding his bike while wearing his most recent “Talon Beast” hand that was created for him. Liam is the first little boy to ever get one of these 3d printed hands and the child that inspired the first design! It has been so amazing to watch him go from a clunky metal prototype hand and trying to pick up a ball with his new fingers – to riding a dirt bike with a 3D printed hand – like a pro!

Thank you to all of the parents and families that send us photos and videos to share with our volunteers! Seeing those smiling faces and wonderful photos of happy children – is what keeps us driven to continue volunteering our time and sharing our designs so that more and more children like Liam can do some of the things they haven’t ever been able to do before!

If you have had a device created for you or your child and would like to share photos or videos with the e-NABLE community – please do! Your smiles inspire us to keep creating!

You can email us at info@enablingthefuture.org!

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