Enabling The Future

A Global Network Of Passionate Volunteers Using 3D Printing To Give The World A "Helping Hand."

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Recipient Of 3D Printed Hand Gifts Little Girl Her Own 3D Printed Arm – “Paying It Forward”

While we get to hear of many wonderful and beautiful stories as more and more volunteers are delivering free 3D printed e-NABLE “Helper hands” to children and adults around the globe – some of our very favorite stories are the ones that involve e-NABLE recipients who become e-NABLE volunteers that turn around and pay it forward to another recipient who needed a “helping hand.”

One of our amazing volunteers, Stephen Davies, who also happens to be a recipient and tester of e-NABLE devices himself, traveled 200 miles round trip to deliver an **experimental design to his first recipient: an 8 year old little girl named Isabella, from Bristol UK. She is now one of our new Beta testers that will help us develop stronger and better arm designs for our many eager recipients on our wait list. Click the video link below to get a sneak peek into her first experiences with her new device!

Isabella’s parents first discovered e-NABLE through our Facebook page and simply watched as more videos and stories were shared, until they were intrigued enough to ask Isabella if she would be interested in trying one of the devices herself. She jumped at the opportunity to be paired with a maker and they were lucky enough to be connected through e-NABLE and the UK Organization “Reach” who matched her with e-NABLE volunteer, Stephen Davies.


Her father, Matt, writes: “The impact on Isabella’s confidence was almost immediate, she’s never been a shy girl but we are aware of when she is self conscious, particularly in public places where she tends to get the odd unwanted stare or whispered question. The gadget is so bright and bold that she insisted on wearing it to the local supermarket straight after she got it and proudly strutted around wanting the world to see it. She’s been keen to show it off and explain how it works ever since she got it and to almost anyone that will listen.

The gadget isn’t the easiest for Isabella to use as she’s having to use muscles she hasn’t had to rely on previously, so she’s busy testing out picking various things up and working out what she can and can’t do with it.


Matt shares his thoughts on how much it meant to them that the device was created and gifted to them by another recipient: “Stephen was amazing too – a real highlight of this experience for us. The fact that Stephen has an e-NABLE hand himself and that he’s also a parent, meant that he not only understood from a user perspective what this would do for Isabella but he was able to make her feel at ease with the whole situation. It was incredible.

We are just so grateful to Stephen and the e-NABLE community for the time and energy they have invested in making this happen. The look on Isabella’s face as she realized what she could now do, will live with us forever as will the patience and good nature of Stephen in how he dealt with Isabella on a one to one level.”


Matt writes: “I would encourage everyone to get behind this initiative but remember two things in doing so: 1. This isn’t about creating a functional (traditional) prosthetic hand. It is a gadget (a tool)  that enables people to do things they may have previously struggled to do. The confidence boost alone is well worth taking a step into this journey and everything else is just secondary in my mind. 2. Be bold and be colorful in your design!”

In Isabella’s words: “It’s amazing and I LOVE the colours! Im going to use it for as many things as I can!”


Isabella’s volunteer and “Maker,” Stephen Davies is 40 years old and was born missing his left hand. He had given up on wearing prosthetics after the NHS supplied him with what he says “can only be described as a claw from medieval times.”


He writes: ” I was browsing the internet one night and came upon the e-NABLE website and could not believe the hands were free. Soon after filling out my application online, I was partnered with Drew Murray who built my first hand. I was so blown away by the e-NABLE community that I had to be involved.

In the course of a few months, I had raised the money to purchase a 3D printer, been approved as a maker/volunteer and had become very active behind the scenes with the R&D group, trying to improve the hand designs. I like to think that I have found a kindred spirit in Drew, who had advised, mentored and pushed me to use my talents to help others.”

Stephen adds: “I believe that I am in a unique position to be able to model, design, build and wear the devices and help evolve the design of these hands by wearing and testing them on myself.”

What a wonderful circle of giving! These are the kind of stories we love to share and hope that this inspires other recipients and families of recipients to consider volunteering and finding ways to help pay it forward to other families out there who are eagerly waiting the chance to try an e-NABLE device!

**Please note that while these new designs are being created and our select few beta testers are helping to give us feedback, our arm design team has put a halt to creating arm devices until more research and development has been made and the designs can be more easily printed, assembled and fit to recipients. If you are currently waiting for an elbow driven device for you or your child, please know that our beta testers like Isabella, are giving our volunteer designers some valuable input and we hope to have a strong enough new design to put into production soon! Thank you for your patience!

For more information on how to become a volunteer or how to get on the wait list for a device for you or your child – please visit our “Get Involved” page.

To make tax deductible donations to help e-NABLE continue to provide free 3D printed devices to those in need – please visit our Donate page. Every little bit of help makes a difference.


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Happy 2nd Birthday e-NABLE!

It is hard to believe that another year has passed for our ever growing and evolving e-NABLE community and today we celebrate the 2 year mark of somehow finding a way to bring people from all walks of life, different religions, opposing political views, cultures, races, occupations, education levels and so much more – to work together to make a difference in the lives of others…simply by using the talents and tools that we have available to us on a daily basis.

While our community and many others have provided an estimated 1500 free hands to those in need around the world – what we have accomplished over the past year, goes well beyond simply creating helper tools for children born with no fingers, winning tech awards, being gifted a grant for research and development and making the news more times than we can keep track of…what we have really accomplished – is something even more beautiful and wonderful than all of that put together.

We have created a world wide movement of people who are putting aside their differences and reaching out across oceans, past borders and barriers – to create something positive in the world and for each other.

We have a growing global humanitarian army of selfless people who are scraping together their extra change to purchase materials to make a hand for a child they will never meet. We have groups of people who are risking their lives to get 3D printed hands to victims of war. We have elementary, middle and high school students who are giving up their recess and lunch hours to build  hands for their fellow students and we have universities who are forming teams and coming together to change lives. We have hundreds of scouts who are spending their free time and giving up their Saturday afternoons to assemble hands for children in countries where these simple 3D printed devices are the only option they will ever have for a prosthetic device.

When e-NABLE was founded in 2013, we started with about 70 volunteers and just a few hands had been created and delivered. A year later in June of 2014, the e-NABLE Google+ community had grown to over 1000 members and we had created over 200 hands.

Today, we have over 5500 members in our growing community and have donated hands to people in over 40 countries.


Some of our most notable moments this past year:


Dr. Albert Chi and his team at Johns Hopkins Uniiversity with e-NABLE’s Jen Owen, Jon Schull, Peter Binkley and Ivan Owen.

• The e-NABLE community found itself adopted by the amazing Dr. Albert Chi, a leading trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins University – who helped create and host the first ever e-NABLE conference that brought together e-NABLE volunteers, 200+ medical professionals and 25 families for one amazing day of learning how to assemble devices and learning valuable skills and lessons from each other.


In September 2014, e-NABLE, Dr. Albert Chi and Johns Hopkins hosted the first e-NABLE conference with over 400 people in attendance, including 25 families that would learn to assemble hands to take home with them that day.


A mother reacts to seeing her child make a fist with his new 3D printed fingers for the first time at the first e-NABLE “Prosthetists Meets Printers” conference at Johns Hopkins – Sept. 2014.

•  Hundreds of Boy and Girl scouts started donating their free time to put on workshops to teach each other how to assemble 3D printed hands to donate to clinics in areas where there is a great need for devices for patients who do not have access to healthcare. They have represented e-NABLE at various events – including the White House Makerfaire and have an ever growing need to have more 3D printed hand kits donated through out the year as more and more clinics and non profits reach out to e-NABLE for help.


Scout troops in Baltimore, along with Dr. Albert Chi and e-NABLE Volunteers – assemble hundreds of 3D printed hands to send to a hospital overseas that are treating those who have been wounded in war torn areas during their “Hands Across Borders” event.

If you have a 3D printer and would like to help print devices for these Scout troops to use in their workshops to assemble and send to places like Haiti and Nepal – please visit their information page here and sign up to donate a hand kit!


A young Scout spends a few moments to think about what his hard work and gift of his time has created for someone he will never meet.

The Enable Community Foundation was formed to help support the e-NABLE global community and became an official 501(c)(3) Non Profit. Through the ECF, the community can now accept tax deductible donations, apply for grants and provide support and guidance to the ever growing community.

Google.org presented e-NABLE with a $600,000 grant aimed at providing more research and development of the current designs and help with data collection from our beta testers. This grant will also help the community to organize global design challenges, improve the hand-o-matic software and provide more outreach capabilities to underserved populations.

3D Systems announced it’s partnership with the Enable Community Foundation, with the hopes of creating new designs and educational opportunities to volunteers, recipients and students.


3D Systems – Evan Kuester – designs the K-1 hand for the e-NABLE community.

Marvel Universe LIVE! teamed up with e-NABLE to help their cast and crew feel like Real Life Superheroes by pairing them up with hand recipients and encouraging them to help build hands for children in the cities they visit while on tour.

The e-NABLE Haiti team is awarded the $100,000 Genesis Prize to help create an e-NABLE based 3D printed prosthetics project in Haiti.

e-NABLE is named to the Nominet Trust 100 – a list of inspiring digital social innovations that highlights the impact of global “Tech For Good.”

Numerous museums around the world put e-NABLE devices on display.


The original failed prototype metal hand created by Ivan Owen and the Raptor Reloaded design that was born from a global collaboration effort to improve the design.

New hand and arm designs are being created and beta tested. By July of 2014, the community had created the Cyborg Beast, the Talon, the Ody hand, the Owen Replacement Fingers and the “Talon Beast” hybrid. One year later – the Raptor, the Raptor Reloaded, the RIT Arm, the Limbitless Arm, the Flextensor, the Flexy Hand, the Flexy Arm, The Osprey, The Phoenix, The Python hand and the Cyborg arm, as well as thermomesh designs were added to the list of devices being tested by the community.


Volunteer Jason Bryant, holding the Eagle, holding the Raptor Reloaded, holding the Classic Raptor.

ABC/Yahoo News, named Ivan Owen, one of the original designers of the first 3D printed hand – “Best Person In the World.”

Volunteer and professor at UWM, Frankie Flood pushes the design past “Five functional fingers” and creates a Violin bow holder device and a trumpet playing aid for children who are missing fingers.


e-NABLE Volunteer and designer, Frankie Flood of UWM and his students create devices to help children with upper limb differences, play musical instruments.

e-NABLE volunteers help to create an exo-skeleton “Airy Arm” design for the Brain Recovery Project for children who have had half of their brain removed to provide relief from debilitating seizures – which leaves them partially paralyzed. Still in the development stage – this design has potential to also help stroke victims and those who have had nerve damage from accidents or disease.


Landon uses a prototype of the Airy arm to help him open and close his fingers.

• e-NABLE was listed as one of the top searches of 2014 – by Google.

There are so many wonderful milestones and moments that we could list for this year – but the most important is that we have a growing global family that are dedicating their free time and talents to trying to make the world a little better place and gift a child with an upper limb difference – a tool to use to make every day tasks a little easier. The world is taking notice, medical professionals are starting to experiment with e-NABLE designs, more children are getting the chance to try low cost and easy to assemble devices and students around the world are finding e-NABLE in their classrooms where they are learning valuable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) skills and getting to see their hard work – help a real person.

Children are putting down their video game controllers, turning off the t.v., showing up early for classes and dedicating their time to making a difference in someone else’s life.

To us, there is no greater accomplishment – than inspiring our future generation of makers, thinkers, inventors and do-ers – to think more about what they can give to the world …than what the world owes them.

We look forward to continuing our quest to e-NABLE The Future in 2015.

Will you join us?


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e-NABLING Hands Across The World

Over the past 2 years, we have watched this amazing “Thing” that is happening…this incredible giving spirit and generosity of our e-NABLE community – spreading across the globe like wildfire.

On the map above, each dot represents at least one hand recipient in that country.

We now know of 40 countries who have at least one recipient of an e-NABLE device that has either been donated to them, created for them by a loved one or who have made one for themselves.

We have no way of knowing exactly how many hands have been delivered due to the designs being shared open source and available to anyone that wants to download them and create them. We know that many people do not wish to go through the matching process because they have the skills and tools available to create one for someone on their own. We estimate that there are about 1500 devices out there in this great big world of ours and that number increases weekly!

It’s incredible what can happen when you share your ideas with each other!

Every week, we find new stories of more hands being created by people who have fallen in love with this maker movement and who have started their own groups who are helping us reach even further into places that may not have internet access that may not have heard of our wonderful community yet.

There are still many places we wish to reach and we hope that within the next year – we can update this page and this map to show a world where every country has encountered the gift of a Helping Hand from one of our volunteers.

Please feel free to join us in our Google+ community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, sign up as a volunteer and ask questions in our Forums.

Together we can make a difference.

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Red Hat, e-NABLE And Open Source Philosophies

The trailer for “e-NABLE: open technology, faster progress“, the second film in Red Hat‘s Open Source Stories Film series, premiered at Red Hat Summit 2015 on Wednesday morning during the general session.

Look for the full short documentary film later this summer!

“When we decided to tell the e-NABLE story, we thought we were telling a story about children and their parents finding affordable choices where there were none before because of new technology and open collaboration. That turns out to be just a small portion of the overall picture. What we found is the open source way in a hardware community, expanding what is possible. We found a research and development model that relied on users becoming designers, and a community committed to bringing different usable prototypes to smiling children in a matter of months. We found people from a variety of backgrounds who wanted to help those they’ve never met. We found a burgeoning open hardware maker community at the edge of disrupting an entire industry.”

During this event, they also held a 5K run where participants who donned their running shoes and helped to raise over $4800 that will be donated to the Enable Community Foundation to help us continue to provide free hands to those in need.

While our Google.org grant will provide us with funding to dig deeper into research and development, provide mini grants for research teams and help us create new designs – the e-NABLE Community is still in need of donations to help us hire full time staff to manage the ever growing and evolving community, recipient needs and help to put on more conferences and events where families, medical professionals and wounded warriors can be served!

Thank you Red Hat for your generous donation and for helping us to Make A Difference!



Looking Forward: the Google.org Grant and Goals

Three weeks ago, we announced that the Enable Community Foundation had been awarded a $600,000 grant from Google.org to scale the work that the e-NABLE community does.  Today we’d like to share a summary of what the ECF hopes to achieve with this funding, how the ECF plans to attain these goals, and how we will measure outcomes of these efforts.

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3D Systems And e-NABLE – Collaboration To Enable The Future


e-NABLE and 3D Systems team up to help enable even more lives around the world!

Today the Enable Community Foundation announced a new partnership with 3D Systems,  a leader in developing 3D Printing technologies.  With their support, we expect to bring new designs, new designers, and new educational opportunities to volunteers, recipients, and students.

The ECF partnered with 3D Systems as part of its mission to help the e-NABLE community spread our unique mix of high tech, high touch, volunteer, open-source humanitarianism around the world. 3DS has made an investment in our methods by developing a new open source hand design for the community to test, validate, and fork:  the K-1.

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Enable Community Foundation Graduates as a “Real” Non-profit

From a hotel room in Cambridge, MA, the day before my daughter graduated from MIT, I got this one-line email from one of our attorneys:

“Attached is the exemption letter which I received today.”

Exemption letter? As in, exempt from taxes? The result of the complicated 1023 form that we filed in April with hopes of hearing something within ninety days, if we were lucky, or six to eighteen months if unlucky?

“…we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Code. Contributions to you are deductible…”

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