E-nabling The Future

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


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Register Now For Our Historic Conference on 9.28.14!

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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!


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e-NABLING Brazil • Super Heroes Around The World

Marcelo Botelho is a student of mechanical engineering, a product designer and a 3D Printing enthusiast located in Brazil. Earlier this year, he came upon a video online about 3D printed prosthetic hands and decided he wanted to try making one for Luanderson, a young boy who asks for money in the streets.

The first design failed due to the high costs of the materials required to create the design he had found and he was unable to complete the device for young Luanderson. A school teacher contacted him after seeing a newspaper article about his first attempt at creating a 3D printed device and asked if he could make a hand for one of her young students, a little boy named Kelvin.

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Kelvin is a young boy whose family struggles in the outskirts of Sao Paulo and he was ashamed of his hand and always hiding it from people. Marcelo did not give up on making a 3D printed prosthetic hand and started to search online for another design in hopes of finding one that would not require the same types of expensive materials as the first design he had attempted. In his search, he found e-NABLE‘s “Cyborg Beast” design on Thingiverse and downloaded the files.

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Because e-NABLE strives to make our designs as low cost as possible – Marcelo was able to complete a device for Kelvin and even created it in the theme of “Ben 10″ – one of his favorite cartoon characters. He wanted him to feel like a super hero and presented it to him at his school. In the video above, you can see him getting fitted for the device, playing with toys and taking a moment to himself to enjoy his new fingers.

Marcelo hopes that media will discover him in his country so that he can share the news of e-NABLE, help find a way to get more 3D printers into communities that need help with low cost prosthetics and to teach others how to make them.

Now, because of e-NABLE’s designs, Marcelo can finally make a completed hand for Luanderson too.

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The hope of e-NABLE is to continue to work toward designs that cost as little to produce as possible, so that families and individuals in countries where supplies are limited and far too expensive to acquire – can simply print out most everything they need to create  them. Our goal is to produce designs that cost little to produce, are safe and comfortable and can be easily assembled by anyone, anywhere around the world.

We hope to begin outreach to countries with underserved populations and start a global effort to educate people about 3D printing and just how much of a change it can make in the lives of people from all over the world.

Would you like to help make a hand?
Would you like to get on the wait list for a hand?
Would you like someone to help print parts for you so you can make one of these devices for someone you love?

Please email us at letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture.org

To help us get materials, purchase 3D printers and get teams of volunteers to teach others in underserved locations around the world who have a great need for low cost and easily assembled prosthetic hand devices – we welcome any donations you would like to provide.

Thank you for helping us make a difference.

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e-NABLE and The Open Hand Project – Making A Difference Together

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On September 28, 2014, e-NABLE will have our first conference: “Prosthetists Meet Printers” at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. One of our special guests will be Joel Gibbard from the Open Hand Project.

Joel Gibbard founded The Open Hand Project in 2013 in order to make robotic prosthesis more accessible. The 3D printing expert and roboticist started working on robotic hands when he was 17 years old. Last year, he ran a crowd funding campaign in order to develop a 3D printed robotic prosthetic that would cost just $1000. You can watch the inspiring video HERE.

Joel believes technology should be developed with the people who need it the most in mind and that means making prosthetics that are both practical and affordable. He gave a TedX Talk about what this means, earlier this year.

Joel is on a mission to remove the financial barrier to better prosthetics for children and adults. He’s trying to achieve this partly by keeping his designs and engineering open source. People can print their own hands at home if they want to and customize their prosthetic.

He is based in the UK and has been an e-NABLE member since January 2014. He sees the e-NABLE organization as a brother-in-arms. The Open Hand Project and e-NABLE are both working to improve the accessibility to prosthetic hands without any drive for financial gain.

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This is what the Maker had to say:

What if we could 3D print prosthetic hands in one single piece? what if they were custom fitted to the user and could be made remotely, on demand and then shipped out to them?

Think about what this would mean for amputees, especially those in developing countries or without access to decent healthcare. The device wouldn’t require any assembly or special skills to build, it wouldn’t even require any tools or expertise to be fitted to the user. It could be lighter and cheaper without the need for any nuts and bolts or “vitamins.”

It could just be printed and sent off to the user. This would have a huge impact in areas where resources are hard to come by. It could change the lives for children across Africa that have lost limbs through civil wars in countries like Sudan, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Congo. These devices can also give adults a new freedom to help care for their children and contribute in their communities.

I envisage a future where prosthetics are made in this way and where access to functional and well-fitted prostheses does not depend on where you live or how much money you have. My personal interest is in robotics, so I’ve been focussing intently on creating a robotic hand that can give amputees high levels of functionality and freedom.

One area of particular interest to me is in the different materials that 3D printers are capable of printing in; this can make a huge difference to the performance of a device. We’ve had great success with ABS and PLS so far, but they do have their limitations. PLA is quite brittle and can break, especially when kids aren’t too careful with their hands! It does however have the awesome benefit of printing really fast and being extremely cheap so you can print replacement parts very quickly. As the 3D printing sector grows, more materials are becoming available. Nylon offers incredible strength and some flexibility and now we have flexible materials like “Ninjaflex” which behaves a lot like rubber (but tend to take longer to print.)

The Perfect prosthetic would combine different materials in a biological design. Bones would be made of a strong and light material, tendons and ligaments would be printed in a strong and flexible material and the skin would be made from a stretchy and grippy material. Printed all at once, these materials could make a biological hand that behaves just like the human hand.

We’ve got a long way to go but this is what I’m working on at Open Bionics. Please stop by our booth at the e-NABLE “Prosthetists Meet Printers” conference on September 28, 2014 to say hello. You can see our robotic hands in action!

If you can’t make the conference but want to be part of the project, please email: info@openhandproject.com or give us a tweet! @openbionics

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e-NABLE 3D Printed Prosthetics • Why We Do What We Do

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Over the last few months, we have been filling our Facebook, twitter and blog feeds with pictures and stories of smiling children who have discovered their inner “Super Hero” – simply by strapping a $50 3D printed plastic hand to their arm and wiggling colorful “fingers’ that now sit where the digits they were never born with – would have been.

Many of you do not know just how many people we hear from daily…How many volunteers we have who have signed up to donate not only their time and talents needed to create these devices, but their resources for the plastic and materials needed to create these hands. No e-NABLE volunteer ever asks for reimbursement. Every single hand that has been printed, assembled and delivered to a recipient – is paid for by the individual who has committed to creating this for the person they were matched with.

It is a labor of love. It is 12-16 hours of print time. It is $25-$50 in materials. It is time spent emailing back and forth for measurements. It’s hours spent scraping away support materials, running to the hardware store, cutting and tying cords and sewing velcro and hot gluing your fingertips instead of the padding…it’s a lot of work – but the rewards are priceless.

We create because we can. Because it is fun. Because it feels good to make someone else feel amazing. Because if we keep giving and inspiring others to do the same…maybe, just maybe, this world will feel a little better and brighter and not so scary anymore.

Over the past 6 days, we have gotten more inquiries for hands than we have in months.

This past week – we had 70 intake forms completed from people requesting a device and 34 still waiting to complete the intake form. The ages range from toddlers to 78 years old.

But you want to know what is truly amazing?

We also got 104 new intake forms completed…from people who want to volunteer to make a hand for someone in need.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Every single day, we get emails telling us of broken hearted children who get bullied at school every time they step foot in their classroom. We get stories about parents who live in 3rd world countries who have lost their hands in industrial accidents or war – who just want to be able to provide food and shelter again for their children. We get images of tiny little hands with tiny little nubs where fingers never grew…and tear filled pleas from parents who can’t take watching their child being ridiculed and shunned every day – simply because they do not look like their peers.

While these e-NABLE hands have some function to help grab and hold things and while they sometimes (more often than not) turn the “different kid” into the “cool kid” at school – what these simple 3D printed prosthetic hands do…is bring people from all walks of life, all religions, all colors and races, all political beliefs, all economic needs and all talents and skills together – to put aside their differences….and work together – to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Thank you for helping us make a difference one hand, one story, one smile at a time.

If you would like to help create these hands for those in need – please fill out our intake form here – and our matcher team will help get you started on being listed as a volunteer and start matching you people who need devices. We can’t do this without you.

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The 3D Printed “Light Show Hand!”

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“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited…Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Over the past year, the e-NABLE Google+ community has grown from 70ish people who had 3D printers and offered to make parts for those who needed hands created…to a global “Village” of nearly 1700 individuals who have come together to share their creativity, their ideas, their passions and their talents to help make 3D printed prosthetics for children and adults in need.

While we  continue to strive to make low cost and functional devices to share with the world …we are also discovering the power of our imaginations as we find ourselves remembering that these devices can be anything we want them to be…we do not have to be limited to the idea that they must look like “real” hands…they can become whatever it is that makes us feel beautiful and special.

We can be super heroes.
We can have 6 fingers.
We can have hands at the end of our elbows.
We can have card holders instead of fingertips.
We can have light shows living in our fingertips…

One of our e-NABLE volunteers, Debbie Leung, is continuously reminding us that the possibilities are endless when it comes to combining our imaginations with 3D printing.

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Making Children’s 3D Printed Prosthetics…”SUPER” Awesome…With A Wolverine HAND!

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Sometimes…our volunteers get a little crafty…a little artistic and a whole lot – “SUPER” AWESOME! 

One of our volunteers, Aaron Brown, decided that he wanted to build a hand to take to a local children’s hospital and the MakerFaire in Grand Rapids, Michigan and wanted to try using some bright colors…and it just so happens that the college sports teams there are known as the Wolverines.  Aaron writes, “The Comic loving nerd inside of me (along with some Facebook friends) said there is no way I can make a Wolverine hand without CLAWS…so I modeled some in Sketchup the morning before the makerfaire, printed ‘em, spray painted ‘em silver and velcro’d ‘em on there. Turned out pretty darn cool!”

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3D Printed Prosthetics Study – e-NABLE Hands At Creighton University

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(Click on the image above to visit the video about 3D printed e-NABLE hands at Creighton University.)

There are increasing numbers of children with traumatic hand injuries due to war, natural disasters and accidents as well as congenital upper limb differences where children are born without completed arms, hands or fingers due to amniotic band syndrome or other complications during development. It is reported that 1 in 1500 children are born missing fingers.

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re:3D Gifts A Gigabot To e-NABLE The Development Of 3D Printed Arm Designs!

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“re:3D and Gigabot are very excited to be part of e-NABLE with our mission of printing with a purpose. It is our goal to provide an affordable industrial large format 3D printer to enable the community. We began with the idea of creating a robust 3D printer large enough to make composting toilets, rainwater barrels and useful items for humans – at the human scale. Our Gigabot printer is now supporting higher education, artists, entrepreneurs and business across the USA and more than 26 countries around the World.”
– Matthew Fiedler (Founder and Chief Hacker – re:3d)

As e-NABLE has grown over the past year, we have gone from working on improving the original 3D printed mechanical hand design – to having developed 5 functional designs, partial finger replacements, a myo-electric arm design and our team at RIT is working on a mechanically driven arm design as well. 

While the desk top printers work wonderfully for printing the hands, the arm designs require a much larger printer bed to produce the parts needed to create them.

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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.

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