E-nabling The Future

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

IMG_Prosthetics Team 5408

Leave a comment

e-NABLing Haiti

e-NABLE in Haiti: A Pilot-Project In-Progress

A Report by Elinor Meeks,

with Contributions from Fellow e-NABLE in Haiti Pilot Team Members:

Caitlin McDonnell, Dante Varotsis, Mohit Chaudhary and Roland Mokuolu

Starting last summer, a group of e-NABLE volunteers came together to develop a concept for bringing e-NABLE’s know-how, devices and community-building approach to the developing world. Motivated by a grant opportunity posed by billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and inspired by e-NABLE’s patron surgeon Dr. Albert Chi to consider Haiti as their first port of call, this diverse, intrepid team (See sidebar) hit the ground running.  What follows is an account of our progress, culminating in the recent trip by two team members to Port Au Prince in December.

How It All Began — The Genesis and The Great Dr. Chi

It all started in July when Dante Varotsis,  a New York City area volunteer, posted to the google+ group about a grant opportunity.  The Genesis Generation Challenge was “designed to encourage teams of change agents from across the world to submit ideas for projects, guided by Jewish values, that demonstrate innovation and creativity in addressing the world’s pressing issues.” (That was the inspiration, and the program’s long term goal was to engage Jewish millennials,  but  participation was open to individuals of all faiths and backgrounds around the world.)

Soon, lead by Dante, we were a team: myself, Mohit Chaudhary, Caitlin McDonnell, Roland Mokuolu, and David Langton, with support from Jon Schull, and others.  Next, we needed to define our project.  We knew we wanted to devise a pilot to bring e-NABLE’s know-how, devices and community-building approach to the developing world.  Our decisive moment was meeting Dr. Albert Chi at e-NABLE’s landmark Prosthetists Meet Printers event at Johns Hopkins University in September.  He had led several medical missions to a prosthetics clinic in Haiti and not only encouraged us to focus on the needs in Haiti, but put us in touch with his colleagues at the Hospital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) clinic in Deschapelles. Somewhat serendipitously, at the same event, we met Dave Levin, a social enterprise entrepreneur, who put us in touch with Sam Bloch, the man behind Haiti Communitere which houses, ILab, the first and only 3D printing makerspace in Haiti.

IMG_HC mural 5148

Over the next two months, the core team spent countless hours conceptualizing the Haitian venture, interviewing doctors, engineers and volunteers with experience in Haiti, eventually shaping a full business plan. By the time the challenge deadline arrived in late October, we had envisioned a viable, scalable project based in Haiti that would build on e-NABLE’s “hand-a-thon” model, so successfully demonstrated in Baltimore, where volunteers pre-printed hand parts in a range of sizes, for assembly in real-time at the conference by parents and practitioners during guided workshops.

Our project would involve inviting e-NABLE volunteers to provide an initial set of devices, and in subsequent phases we’d help local clinicians gain the capacity and expertise needed to produce hands themselves, on-site.  Moreover, by partnering with Haiti’s unique makerspace and business incubator, Haiti Communitere, we would identify 3D printing technicians who could receive training to support the clinicians, and eventually develop a self-sustaining business model around production and repair of e-NABLE devices.

After submitting to the Genesis Generation Challenge in October, we went on to apply for other relevant grants that offer guidance or financial support.  Among these, Caitlin applied to the OneStart Challenge — a life sciences accelerator hosted by Oxbridge Biotech Roundup.  And in late December, we were thrilled to find out e-NABLE in Haiti was selected as one of 35 semi-finalists the from a field of 322 North American  applications!  As a result, we now have a mentor to help refine the business plan, and an invitation to a 2-day business bootcamp in San Francisco in February.

The Virtues of Impatience:  Going Sooner

Although we wouldn’t know until mid-November whether whether our project would advance to the second round (but it did!), some us couldn’t wait. Mohit was determined to get started, Dante was soon on board.  They decided to go to Haiti in December to meet visit Hopital Albert Schweitzer (HAS), and Haiti Communitere, and to begin building hands and arms.  With the help of Kara Tanaka, leader of University of Southern California’s 3D printing club, and Ara Boghosian of Design Intent CAD, Mohit and Dante packed up 20 unassembled raptor hands and an RIT arm. And they were off!

Day By Day: Meeting Partners, Building Hands, Assessing Needs

December 13th – Day One:  On the very day when Baltimore-area boy and girl scouts, were assembling e-NABLE hands for far-away recipients in the Middle East,  Dante and Mohit touched down in Port au Prince. Soon after their arrival at HAS, they met Dara Dotz, Mark Mellors, and Eric James of Field Ready, a like-minded team of 3D-printing humanitarians spoken with previously.. They agreed to travel together for part of the journey, stopping along the way to bring Field Ready’s 3D-printed umbilical cord clamps to rural midwife clinics, and to chat about other applications of 3D printing in developing world medicine.

IMG_Dante Cornelia dog 5185Dante demo’ing the hand to Cornelia and Blackey (the dog)

Once at HAS, Dante and Mohit met with Cornelia Kohler, a Medi-For-Help prosthetist who helped us plan this project during the closing weeks of her 1.5 years tenure in Haiti. Cornelia introduced her lead technician, Dieuseul Charles (aka Joel), a native of Deschapelles who was very eager to learn about the e-NABLE hands.

Day Two Now Dante and Mohit got to know the Hospital Albert Schweitzer, a remarkable operation that serves 350,000 patients.  Although HAS has provided thousands of conventional prosthetics to Haitians, there are many more potential recipients who, for various reasons, they cannot fit with such devices.  Enter e-NABLE!  

Later in the day, Dante and Mohit taught Joel how to build an e-NABLE “Raptor” model hand; with Joel’s artistic precision and insightful questions, he was soon holding his first completed e-NABLE hand.

IMG_jennifer joel hand assembly 5241Dante showing Joel and Jennifer (HAS staff) how to assemble the hands

IMG_First assembled OK hand 5245Dante, Joel, and Mohit with Haiti’s first Raptor hand

Day Three: 7am grand rounds and “in service.”  Dante and Mohit were invited to give a presentation about e-NABLE to the the doctors and administrators’ daily forum.  In the discussion that followed, people were clearly excited by the prospect of bringing e-NABLE-inspired solutions to Haitian needs, and they had  some incisive questions:  “What can it do other than shake a hand?”, “Can it look more like a hand?”, “What about arms?”, “What happens when it breaks?”, “How much do they cost?”

IMG_presentation adriana 5259Dante and Mohit giving a presentation with the help of their translator, Adriana

The discussion also revealed that a substantial number of patients would benefit from prosthetic arms if the devices could work for physical labor.  And there may even be more candidates for arms than for hands.

After Grand Rounds, the team returned to the prosthetics center for another hand assembly with another set of technicians Tcho, Alix, Yvener, and Cira. But this time, Joel lead the teaching.  In three hours, the team assembled five hands, the fifth of which was completed by the secretary, Regeline, who, upon completion, slipped a latex glove over the raptor hand. “There”, she said, “much prettier.” Indeed, it looked more like a hand, and added grip to the surface!

IMG_team working hard to build hands 5267The team working hard to build their hands

IMG_Regeline gloved hand 5373Regeline showing off her gloved e-NABLE hand

After breaking for lunch, Joel and Alix showed Mohit and Dante how traditional prosthetics are cast-molded.  Having tools for both traditional prosthetics as well as  3D-printed parts in HAS, will make it easier to adapt devices to Haitian conditions.

IMG_Prosthetics Team 5408The prosthetics team and their newly built hands

That night, Dante toured the pediatric ward with Dr. Eileen Moore, a volunteer pediatrician from Denver. As he shadowed her during rounds, she discussed the conditions of many of the babies in the pediatric ICU. One child was suffering from infant respiratory distress syndrome (IRDS), a common problem with premature births. In the U.S., this is routinely remedied by squirting a solution of surfactant into the baby’s lungs. And even in many developing countries, the baby would likely be treated  with surfactant or with a device called a bubble CPAP. But in Haiti, neither option was available. Dante was pained to hear that for the next 72 hours, this baby would be fighting for her every breath, and risking lung collapse.  Worse, Dante learned that a neonatal bubble CPAP can be hacked together with a 3D printer and a scalable ventilator mask file.  This relatively simple solution could save the lives of countless premature babies like this one. (For information on CPAP hacks and designs, see: here and here)

IMG_Wooden enable 'mark' 5431e-NABLE leaving its mark at the HAS prosthetics lab

Day Four:  Haiti Communitere.  A unique place filled with jacks of all trades, H.C. is a venn diagram where a hostel, a training facility, a manufacturing space, social enterprise incubator, recycling/compost site all intersect to form a community center for like-minded people.

IMG_Konbit sign5554Work together to rebuild Haiti

One of H.C.’s operations is iLAB , a 3D-printer lab started by a group called KidMob. Dante and Mohit met with Deseme Willio (Willio), the enthusiastic and capable lead technician for the 3D printers. Willio and his team are partnering with us;  the plan is to use H.C.’s space as a manufacturing hub to produce parts for hands to be distributed and assembled at various hospitals in Haiti. Soon after the meeting with Willio, it was time for Dante to say his goodbyes as Mohit continued on.

IMG_kidmobIlab5477KidMob’s iLab with Willio hard at work

In addition to HAS, and H.C., we plan to work with Hospital Bernard Mevs (HBM). Since the earthquake, HBM has been supported by Project Medishare, a Florida-based non-profit working throughout Haiti to support rural communities by training medical professionals and outfitting clinics with necessary technology.  With Project Medishare’s support, HBM has become Haiti’s premier trauma and critical care center, with a busy and well-equipped and busy prosthetics lab directed by Thomas Iwalla.

IMG_project medishare workshop 5523Project Medishare’s prosthetics workshop

Earlier this year Thomas’ lab had fitted a child with the Robohand model, but because he’d been unable to follow up and assess the device’s utility, he was initially cautious about using more 3D-printed prosthetics.  However, after reviewing our work, Thomas became enthusiastic about e-NABLE’s potential for his patients.  Mohit  immediately began brainstorming about adapting the Raptor model for below-the-wrist and above-the-elbow amputees.  Thomas, loved the hand so much he carried the Raptor with him for the rest of the hospital tour, showing it to the nurses and staff.

IMG_Thomas 5536Thomas showing off the Raptor Hand

During the visit, Dante also met a patient who had recently suffered an accident resulting in a partial amputation on his right hand and a below-elbow amputation on his left arm. He expressed interest in the design of the Raptor and in the possibility of using it. When the guys sought feedback on the aesthetics of the Raptor, he noted, “I don’t care as long, as it works.”  This was reassuring since they had previously been told that in Haiti, as in other cultures, there is considerable resistance to prosthetics that are not ‘life-like.’

IMG_makerbot printer5563Newly printed palm piece for assembly

Day Five:  Unfortunately political protests in Port Au Prince thwarted Mohti’s plan to return to H.C. for a full hand-building session with Willio and Thomas. But later, he was able to make a quick trip to say goodbye and discuss follow-ups from the U.S.  We will plan a video-based assembly session.

Takeaways and Next Steps

And then, Mohit headed for the airport, and home.  The trip confirmed the need for prosthetic hands and arms in Haiti.  It also reinforced the need to market and advertise that devices are now becoming available.  And we took some first steps in this direction.  Caitlin and I had designed a flier depicting the hand, with information about our devices and contact details.  Michael Pradieu, a Haitian American and co-founder of Edeyo, an educational non-profit, translated it into Creole.  The flier will be posted in dispensaries and other relevant locations throughout the area, and hopefully expand interest in e-NABLE and eventually help our local partners open for business!

But we won’t just hope.  We want to set the stage for the project’s next phases.  Since we won’t know until February if we will win a Genesis Grant, we are refining our financial analyses and seeking additional or alternative funding to implement our full plan.  We are eagerly following-up with our new colleagues in Haiti.  We are exchanging Ideas for design adaptations and patient intake procedures, planning virtual hand-assembly workshops and networking with other Haitian health-care providers and social entrepreneurs, and so on.  There’s plenty to do to prepare for a next trip to sow more seeds, grow e-NABLE in Haiti, and  offer as many helping hands — or arms — as we can.

Sidebar:  The Team

What do you get when you mix a writer, a bio-engineering student, a young research scientist, two beginning bankers and an engineer without borders, of different generations, backgrounds and even continents? You get the all-volunteer e-NABLE Haiti Pilot Project Team.  United by their passion for e-NABLE and international development, this group came randomly but fortuitously together. (There are some connections:Dante and David grew up together in Pittsburgh; David and Roland work together….)  Drawing on their diverse experiences and expertise, they have been meeting virtually and over some real-life pizza, enjoying and encouraging each other as they work to extend e-NABLE’s reach to Haiti and other challenging global scenarios.

They are:

Dante Varotsis is a Research Assistant at the Paul Greengard Lab of Cellular and Molecular Biosciences at Rockefeller University in New York City. A recent graduate of Vassar with a special interest in global health, Dante’s next chapter will include medical school.

Mohit Chaudhary is a Biomedical/Medical Engineering student at Rutgers University in New Jersey who has worked in systems engineering and IT for IBM and Princeton Radiology Lab and looks forward to his work with Grand Central Tech, a start-up incubator in New York City, this Spring.

Caitlin McDonnell is a Strategy and Management Consultant with a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Oxford.  A born project manager and true engineer without borders, she recently left sunny Northern California for Sydney, Australia.

Elinor Meeks, the team’s pre-millennial, has written for The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and other publications. A former documentary film producer with a background in public relations, she lives in Northern New Jersey with her husband and two sons.

Roland Mokuolu is a financial analyst at an investment bank in New York City and a Civil Engineering grad from Georgia Tech. Co-founder of Inventaprint, a cloud-based design and manufacturing start-up, he also heads the engineering committee for Geeks Rule, a non-profit promoting STEM for underserved youth.

David Langton is an investment analyst in New York City. He graduated with a degree in Economics and Mathematics from Emory University where he was also co-captain of The Eagles soccer team and organized events benefiting Children’s Miracle Network.

Would you like to help make a difference?
Do you have a 3D printer that you would like to print hands on for those in need around the world?

Please visit our Google+ Group here.

Please fill out our volunteer intake form here.

Together – we can change lives.


Leave a comment

A Year Of e-NABLING The Future

There really are no words to describe how much beauty has happened this year, thanks to our amazing volunteers, generous sponsors, wonderful families and the incredible individuals that all contributed to it all.

Some of our biggest accomplishments of 2014:

•We went from about 200 members of our e-NABLE family and community…to over 3200.

• Together, we created over 700 hands around the globe for those in need.

• We went from one basic design – to over 10 new designs for wrist driven hands and introduced myo-electric arms, elbow driven arms and the beginnings of exo-skeletons and even feet and legs.

• e-NABLE had it’s first “Prosthetists Meets Printers” conference with over 400 people in attendance – including prosthetists, medical professionals, families, occupational therapists, FDA representatives, surgeons and more – who all came to learn how to assemble e-NABLE devices.

Hundreds of boy and girl scouts assembled e-NABLE hands to send to children around the world in underserved countries who were born with no fingers or lost hands and arms due to disease, natural disaster or war.

• The “Hand-o-matic” software was created to help even more people have the opportunity to create hands for those in need.

• We were listed as one of the top searches for the year by Google.

• Over a dozen schools “adopted” e-NABLE recipients and incorporated the creation of free 3D printed hand design into their classrooms…not only changing the life of the child that received the hands – but the children that helped to create them.

There are many other wonderful things and awards that have taken place over this past year – but the most beautiful and amazing….is that people from all walks of life and from all around the world, are putting their differences aside to come together to make a difference…one hand, one arm, one smile at a time.

Thank you for being a part of our 2014 and we hope to continue to create even more smiles in 2015!

Before assembly

Leave a comment

Raptor Adaptor – A 3D Printed Hand For Wilhe

You must check the address before you ship!

Developing a hand for Wilhe at Rochester Institute of Technology

By Skip Meetze, e-NABLE Volunteer


“No, don’t call the Post Office” warned Brenda Schlageter, our shipping expert.  “It is not a good idea to try to get a postal or shipping service to change a package destination after it has shipped… especially if it is going out of the country.  The delivery service will then assume that someone is trying to steal the package (by having it shipped to their own address).  The item will end up in customs where it may spend the rest of eternity!”

The team who learned this lesson with me included Emily Sanservereno, Farrukh Mohiuddin, Eric Freeman, Jade Myers and Jon Schull, and our hearts sank when we learned that Wilhe’s prosthesis was headed for the wrong address.

It all started at the end of September, when several hundred people gathered at Johns Hopkins Medical Center to learn how  the e-NABLE community provides 3D-printed prosthetic hands for kids.  One couple made  the 4,000 km trip all the way from Colima Mexico to see if they could get a hand for their 6-year-old son, Wilhe, who was currently using a prosthetic arm with a harness that operated a pair of hooks for grasping things.

Before assembly

This type of prosthesis has been in use for more than 100 years, and it enables below-the-elbow amputees to open the hooks with a shrug of the shoulders while a heavy rubber band pulls them back together.   This enables the user to do most of the two-handed tasksthat everyone else takes for granted.

Standard trans-radial prosthesis copy
Wilhe had seen a video showing a child with one of the cool 3D-printed hands that e-NABLE was providing for kids all around the world, and he wondered if he could have one.  His parents brought his prosthetic arm to the Hopkins conference to find out.  They found that there were several research teams represented at the conference who were exploring the development of 3D-Printed arms, and they left Wilhe’s prosthesis with the Rochester Institute of Technology team to be used as a guide for making Wilhe an arm with a hand.

The RIT team was finishing the revision of an arm for a girl named Lusie at the conference.  It attached to her arm above the elbow and the fingers were actuated by a mechanism that pulled on strings when she moved her elbow.  The team had learned about some advantages in user comfort and control with harness-actuated devices, so students on the team began exploring designs that might work for Wilhe using his harness.  Eric and Jade began working on harness designs while Emily and Farrukh worked on adapting the arm.  Jon Schull had been working with the students on some harness concepts that used 3mm printing filament rather than woven straps to make a harness and I had designed some little tinker-toy-like fittings that could be created on the printer to hold the filament harness together.

RIT Arm and Lusie
After a month passed by, the team was worried about getting a good fit to Wilhe’s arm with him being too far away to cast a perfectly fitting cushion like they had done for Lusie  who came into the lab for a fitting. 

We were all concerned about so much time passing with Wilhe going around without his prosthesis!  During a discussion about options, Jon wondered if we could put a hand on Wilhe’s existing prosthesis.  I had developed a modular adaptor that let the standard Raptor hand work with the RIT arm, and we were planning to use that with Wilhe’s version of the arm, but no one wanted to take the risk of damaging Wilhe’s existing prosthesis.  I looked at the hook on the prosthesis and held it up next to the adaptor on a raptor hand and realized that the hook could actually fit inside the adaptor and hand!

 Having developed some proficiency with a free modeling software called Tinkercad, I set to work.  By Thanksgiving, we had a proof-of-concept model!  It worked without having to make any changes to Wilhe’s prosthesis, but it needed to be rugged enough to stand up to use by an active child and it needed to be repairable by Wilhe’s family if it broke.  Meanwhile, Wilhe’s dad was politely inquiring about our progress…

 The students helped me to keep the printers humming as we worked out the kinks in the design, and after making some documentation, we took the package to the campus post office on December 17. I posted the video describing how Wilhe’s family could repair the arm and how they could also return the prosthesis to it’s original configuration.  We shared the open-source design on YouMagine and on Tinkercad, so others could build on our ideas (although we recognize that Wilhe’s adaptor is custom made for his prosthesis and it will not fit other arms without modification).

 My proud email to Wilhe’s dad announcing our success got an immediate response… Oh No!  It was shipped to the wrong address!  We exchanged a few emails about what our options were, but it all boiled down to waiting … waiting… waiting… Until we had given up on Wilhe having a happy Christmas.

 But on Dec 23, we got the email announcing that the package had arrived!!!!

 Wilhe 5
Stay tuned!  There is more to come in the new year!

Coming soon


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91Pn5Bx2n6o&list=UUc8pda6kN0lr2oyegFkgdsQ   Skip”s youtube

enablingthefuture.org/videos-prosthetists-meets-printers-conference-2014/  Hopkins video page

https://www.youmagine.com/designs/wilhe-s-raptor-adaptor-terminal-device-for-existing-prosthesis  YouMagine Wilhe Adaptor design files

https://tinkercad.com/things/8rOq92c76jG-wilhes-adaptor-left-10-assembly tinkercad design files

https://www.youmagine.com/designs/the-raptor-adaptor-v1-0   Raptor adaptor Design files


Leave a comment

Happy Holidays From Our e-NABLE Family To Yours!

This time of year is always a great time to reflect on the beautiful people in our lives, the things we are most grateful for and what we have accomplished this year that we are most proud of.

While the e-NABLE community has delivered hundreds of 3D printed hands to those in need of devices, created smiles and joy in just about every corner of the world and has changed the lives of children getting these hands as well as the volunteers who have made them…the greatest accomplishment by far and what we are the most proud of – has been that we have somehow managed to find a way to bring people from all walks of life, all religions, all political views, races, colors, genders, talents, educational backgrounds and more…together to help make the world a better place.

One of our members and volunteers, Filipe Wiltgen recently shared a couple of drawings that his daughter’s, Rafaela and Carolina, created to send along with the hands that he had made for children in need in his home country of Brazil. Originally we had asked if the girls would like to make numerous drawings to share to make sure that we included all of the various holidays that take place this time of year.


After discussing it with his daughters – this is what they had to say:

“I talked to girls and after much thought, we thought better than to draw a picture for each end of year and Christmas party, the best would be to have one planet with one goal, with people united and without borders of any kind, thus came the drawing that will be posted to represent what we think is e-NABLE…something greater than our beliefs and our countries..our planet.”

And that really is what e-NABLE is.

Something greater than our beliefs.
Something bigger than our countries.
Something that can not be contained by borders.
Something that sees no color.
Something more than “Hands.”

Something that has one “official language” – Love.

We are a Global Village.
And it is beautiful.

From our e-NABLE family to yours – we wish you a wonderful holiday season with the people that you love the most and the joy that comes from helping others in ways you didn’t know you were capable of.

Blessings to you and yours!


Leave a comment

Hands Across Borders • Scouts Making A Difference Part 1


Last Saturday, in a gymnasium at the Chapelgate Christian Academy in Baltimore, MD – dozens and dozens of boy and girl scouts gathered and spent their free time working together to build e-NABLE hands for children around the world who are in need of upper limb assistive devices. Scouts as young at 5 years old chose to donate not only their Saturday afternoon to assembling 3D printed hands for other children, but many of them have spent countless hours after school and on weekends leading up to this date – learning how to assemble, helping to create “Lego Like/IKEA” instruction sheets, helping to create a shoulder harness for another scout who had an arm built for him, baking their little hearts out to make treats for bake sales to hopefully raise money for their own 3D printers and organizing so much more than we can even begin to describe.

It was amazing to walk into the room and see so many young people who wanted nothing more than to help make a difference.
There was no “Badge” to earn.
There was no “Award” to receive.
They were not trying to set a record.
It wasn’t about who could make the most hands in a single day.

They have done all of this simply for the sake of wanting to be a part of making the world a little brighter for someone they may never get to meet and to do something amazing that will allow them to help bring healing to another child who was born with no fingers or has lost them due to war, disease or accident.

These children are our future and it was overwhelming at times to stand aside and watch their passion, their drive to do something that seems so small to them – but so big for the people they are doing it for and the feeling of community and family that filled the room. Not just the local community – but a global one.

Maria Esquela, the leader of the Crew of a handful of youngsters who decided to take this project on – has this to report:

We worked on 140 hands at the event on 12/13/14. We need to do Quality Assurance/TLC on them before they are packaged and sent. (These hands are going to a medical facility in an underserved area across the ocean where patients will be fitted with these hands by medical professionals who are eager to help as many as possible.)

On the subjective side, my first impression was that everyone was excited and eager to help; they came heeding our words to expect to volunteer. As soon as they arrived they set up the International Peace Light, tables, posters, etc. The youngest children, ages 5-6, plowed through getting the candles ready for the Peace Light distribution, made their index cards for the hands, and set tables with placemats of instructions, tools and printed parts before we even started.  We directed as many participants as possible to sanding in the hour prior to the workshop.


During set up, small groups took turns with one of our leaders, Peg Mann, who had set up a 3 D printer from Fab Lab Baltimore.  Others made a point of visiting the lanterns kindled with the International Peace Light that had come from Israel to Europe to Canada to New York. It had been presented to the UN and distributed to delegations who are still making their way across the country to pass it on to Mexico and the Caribbean.

A large number of participants were joining the Scouts for the first time, Another special note was that some had traveled farther than attendees of past workshops – some from as far as TN and RI to join us in Baltimore. There were a lot of prints being walked in, which had not happened before. We were excited to see the recipient of an arm we’d given away on 11/01.


A 14-year-old and his family drove 9 hours from TN  to help with assembly and to consult with Dr. Chi about getting an arm. Dr. Chi and his guests swung into action right away. They combined parts from 3 arms we’d printed for assembly at that event. Dr. Chi started the last part he needed on a printer and made sure that he went home with an arm.


The buddy checks at the tables worked well. We didn’t have any stray parts at this workshop, and everything stayed neat. 

If there were any questions about cording that we couldn’t answer, or hands that needed TLC, we walked them to Peter Binkley for mentoring.

A group of Girl Scouts made sure everyone was fed while they raised money for a printer. The hands they made on 11/28 started off the people in the cording area of the workshop. At some point it stopped smelling like filament and the aroma of pizza and cookies in the oven took over.


Everyone was happy. There was a lot of mingling by our guests from e-NABLE,  and conversations people were having with their “table buddies.” People didn’t want to stop working, some hurriedly exchanged contact info. Then Dr. Chi and his guest helped us distribute the Peace Light; multiple faiths participated in the ceremony. People have already contacted me that the ceremony will be repeated when they rekindle the light and share it with their units. I hope they remember that the light is in them, not the candles they took home.


We made a copy of the Golden Rule across cultures and faiths over thousands of years, and common ground in conflict resolution and leadership in the Scouting world. Danielle Chi had given our booklet a thumbs up when we started the project. I think she will be happy to know that they were appreciated and none were left behind. 

The art and games we had as a backup activity were barely touched. One group of standout Cubs sanded the whole time. Another high-performing group of Scouts built 3 hands.


What will I remember?…

The echos of advice that Scouts would not sit for more than 20 minutes sanding or a couple hours assembling; every Scout there was fully engaged in the project and didn’t want to stop because they understood the mission and believed in it.  Dr. Chi’s guest finding out we had been working on this project for him since his visit was proposed, and asking how it all got done.  The look of “3 D printer hypnosis” on the faces of people that had not pictured this technology being part of their lives. Some of the things the speakers said, more than I can express here. The smiles from the boy we met on 11/1, the calls and messages from two e-NABLE representatives in Haiti who were safe on a newsworthy day; email and calls from Scouters as far as Florida who wished us well. The crew huddle before the group photo and diving in to lead the largest workshop yet. I’ll remember the focus and purpose on the faces of so many: Dr. Chi and his team, my leaders trying to find what they needed, and on the faces of the youth who wanted to do something perfectly and make a difference. 

I will always remember the earnestness of a mother who wanted to give her son an arm, and how, upon introductions, Dr. Chi signaled to his group and got up from their conversation to lead them to the table where we were about to build generic arms. He saw the need and gave the arm before she asked. She never needed to ask if her son could have an arm. 

We’re still unpacking this experience. Thank you for giving so much to the Scouts and me, the medical team that will distribute these hands, and the children and families that will receive them. This experience will last a lifetime.”

We could not have succeeded without:
Dr. Albert Chi for his mentorship and so much more.
Direct Dimensions for the crucial instructions, printing hands and the time mentoring.
• Printing from Todd Blatt (Baltimore Node), Sean Grimes (Digital Harbor),  NOVA Labs, Jim Zahniser (UMD), Ivan Owen and the e-NABLE Network, Mollye Bendell (Fab Lab Baltimore), NASA, Jenelle Piepmeier (USNA), U VA, U WA Bothell, Dr. DeLap & Dr. Leiffer (La Tourneau),  Juan Garcia (JH Art Applied to Medicine). Food and facilities from Steve Towne (LDS CS), Chef Demitrios (OCCS), Ed Mullin (Baltimore Robotics Center), Steve Kennedy and all at Chapelgate Christian Academy.


Left to right: Peter Binkley, Jon Schull, Maria Esquela, Jen Owen, Dr. Albert Chi, Douglas  Cwirka, Guest from Ziv Medical Center, Israel.


Raptor Reloaded: Design and Intent

The Raptor Reloaded

The Raptor Reloaded

The team behind the original Raptor has released the Raptor Reloaded, an updated and re-factored version of the Raptor Hand.  The entire device was modeled in Fusion 360, a free CAD tool that can import and export most standard solid body modeling formats such as STEP and IGES.  By designing the hand in a tool compatible with numerous CAD packages, we hope to lower the barrier to contribution to the e-NABLE project for engineers and designers.  Previously, if a designer wanted to make a small adjustment to a part of a hand, they’d have to rebuild the entire part in their CAD software before they could make the change.  Now they can download the source files and just spend their time making the specific change they had in mind.  With this new set of source files, we hope to improve the pace of research and development within the design community.

Changes in this design include:

  • Improved print-ability due to custom modeled supports
  • Cyborg Beast compatible sizing
  • Improved dovetail geometry
  • New tensioner retention clip
  • Easier to use tensioner pins
  • Low profile elastics with two tie-off options
  • More access to elastic and flexsor routing channels
  • Debossed versioning information on palm and gauntlet
  • Slimmer, more anthropomorhpic fingers
  • Narrower knuckle block
  • More intuitive assembly (new one-way proximals)
  • Thorough documentation and modular design
  • Source files in native Fusion 360 format, also STEP and IGES
  • Additional velcro-mounting options as well as traditional velcro loop and leather options
  • Re-oriented snap-pin head recesses to improve printability
  • Knuckle pins are now removable, making the hand easy to repair and upgrade
  • Strengthened tie-bars on finger tips

Iteration and Testing are Key

Now that the design is ready, I’d like to share a bit about the process behind the design.  It was a long process involving hundreds of hours of design and print time as the team iterated up on the palm, the phalanges, the gauntlet, the tensioner, and all the snap pins.  Every piece was printed on multiple machines by multiple team members to ensure stability and functionality across different 3D printers.  Numerous small changes were implemented to facilitate easy and reliable printing.


And on the CAD side, we did even more iterations.

And on the CAD side, we did even more iterations.

Behind the scenes of the testing process.  Iteration and rigorous testing is the key!

Behind the scenes of the testing process. Iteration and rigorous testing is the key!


Comparing the new palm with the Raptor Original, left, and the Cyborg Beast, right.

Comparing the new palm with the Raptor Original, left, and the Cyborg Beast, right.

By just printing parts of teh palm, gauntlet, and fingers, we could test fit and motion much faster than by printing out the entire part.

By just printing parts of the palm, gauntlet, and fingers, we could test fit and motion much faster than by printing out the entire part.

A Design Is Only as Open as It’s Documentation

As an open source community developing open source hardware designs, it’s important to design for accessibility and transparency.  This means structuring the very design files themselves for easy manipulation and readability.  While an on-going process, the Fusion source files for the Raptor Reloaded are annotated to provide designers with information about the relationships between 2D and 3D data, much like comments in code help developers interpret and understand code.  Next, we documented all the important mechanical interfaces of all the parts of the design, allowing any designer to design something that will be compatible with the Raptor Reloaded just by looking at the schematics.  This is a lot of information to manage and we will be posting all source files and schematics to our github soon.

Every part of the Raptor Reloaded has been carefully diagramed to allow designers to leverage the design's modularity and make compatible parts.

Every part of the Raptor Reloaded has been carefully diagramed to allow designers to leverage the design’s modularity and make compatible parts.


Leave a comment

e-NABLE • 2014 Winner In Nominet Trust 100!


Changing the World through Tech:

e-NABLE is celebrated in this year’s Nominet Trust 100!

  • Annual Nominet Trust 100 (NT100) list of inspiring digital social innovations highlights impact of global ‘tech for good’ market
  • Technology’s transformative power is driving social change around the world
  • e-NABLE is a global online community of 3000 individuals (and growing daily!)  who are using 3D printing technology to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need. Volunteers from all religious and political backgrounds, races, ages, occupations, cultures and educational levels from around the world are coming together to work for the greater good and make a difference in the lives of many by using their talents, creativity and ideas to produce assistive devices for underserved populations and individuals who were born missing portions of their upper limbs or have lost fingers and arms due to war, disease or natural disaster.

London, UK, 4 December 2014: Today, Nominet Trust proudly announced that e-NABLE has been named among the 2014 Nominet Trust 100 (NT100)a global list of 100 inspiring ventures from around the world.

Projects featured on the list are using technology to tackle some of the world’s biggest social problems from education and human rights abuses to climate change and health.

Following a global call for nominations earlier this year e-NABLE, has been selected by an independent steering committee in recognition of it’s global volunteers who are changing the lives of hundreds around the world by creating free 3D printed assistive “Helping Hands” to those in need.

Commenting on their inclusion in the NT100, Jon Schull, founder of e-NABLE and Research Scientist in MAGIC (Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity) at RIT added: “It’s an honor and a privilege to be recognized and in such good company. We hope this helps us further grow and organize our incredible network of global humanitarians striving to ensure that  life-changing mechanical hands and arms are readily available to all who need them.”

This year, e-NABLE is rubbing shoulders with organizations from established tech markets in the US and Europe, such as Freecycle, Random Hacks of Kindness, alongside initiatives from emerging economies, including eCompliance, a revolutionary use of fingertip-readers to record tuberculosis treatment in India; philanthropic food-photo sharing app Feedie from South Africa and Charity:Water, an organization that helps provide access to clean water to people in the developing world.

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, said: “There is a striking progression in the quality and maturity of this year’s NT100, indicative of a wider evolution in the ‘tech for social good’ sector as a whole.

“More people than ever before are using technology to solve problems that matter to them in bold new ways. This year’s NT100 list is populated by extraordinary people with inspirational stories to tell and it shows us that imagination, social conscience and technology make a potent mix to affect change.”

The final list was compiled by an illustrious steering group chaired by Annika Small and including General Partner of Google Ventures, Tom Hulme; angel investor and entrepreneur, Sherry Coutu; Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund, Dawn Austwick; CEO of Big Society Capital, Nick O’Donohue; Director of Wayra Europe, Simon Devonshire; innovation expert, Charles Leadbeater; internet entrepreneur, Dickie Armour; Senior Fellow at the Stanford University Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, Lucy Bernholz; and Deputy Editor of The FT Weekend Magazine, Alice Fishburn.

To see the full list of NT100 projects, please visit the Social Tech Guide, a dynamic, growing online resource to help inspire social enterprises, or follow the action @socialtechguide / #2014NT100.

For more information on how you can get involved in the growing Global e-NABLE movement:

• Are you in need of a hand or arm device for yourself or your child?
• Do you have a 3D printer and would like to volunteer to print an e-NABLE device for someone in need?
• Are you a teacher or student that wants to make a hand for a recipient as part of your class curriculum?

Please email us at letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture.org and fill out our intake form. One of our volunteers will contact you and get you started on your new e-NABLE adventure!

Are you a member of the media and would like more information? Please email Jen at enablehands@gmail.com for more information and full res images for print or television spots.

We have accomplished so much in just a little over a year – would you like to join us and see what we kind of change we can make in the years to come?

Feel free to join our Google+ community!

Follow us on Facebook!

Find us on Twitter!