Enabling The Future

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


Help Us e-NABLE The Future

By clicking the button above – You can help to support the e-NABLE Community by making a one time or recurring monthly donation to the Enable Community Foundation. Their mission is to support the growing global community of volunteers who create open source devices and provide easily accessible information for children and adults with upper limb differences who are in need of a 3D printed “helping hand.”

With your donation, you are helping us in our mission of “enabling the future” all over the world!
Thank you!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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Zizi of Aruba, gets her first 3D printed e-NABLE hand thanks to a classroom of 9th graders!

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e-NABLING Aruba • A 3D Printed Hand For Zizi

Zizi of Aruba, gets her first 3D printed e-NABLE hand thanks to a classroom of 9th graders!

Zizi of Aruba, gets her first 3D printed e-NABLE hand thanks to a classroom of 9th graders!

During a random search on Facebook, teacher Pieter Verduijn at the International School of Aruba, saw a request from another teacher on the island who asked for help in creating a 3D printed e-NABLE device for a young girl in her class who was missing fingers on her right hand.

Pieter teaches a group of students in a Makerspace class and they just happen to have a 3D printer. One of the very few on the entire island.

He writes, “Aruba isn’t a poor country like other Caribbean countries, but that is mainly because of the tourists. A bigger group of people are still living in poverty and having access to prosthetics is an impossible dream…Until now.

I responded to the teacher and told her that our school had a 3D printer and I would like to help, along with my students. For the girl it would be a success and for the class too. They would learn to cooperate.

Pieter and his students worked hard to create two hands for Zizi and were able to travel to her school to help deliver her new hand to her in person.

Preparing to surprise Zizi with her new hands!

Preparing to surprise Zizi with her new hands!

Sitting in a chair amongst her classmates, Zizi is overcome with emotion as she sees her new 3D printed hands for the first time. Her classmates look on and her teachers comfort her.

Zizi is overwhelmed when she sees her new 3D printed hands for the first time.

Zizi is overwhelmed when she sees her new 3D printed hands for the first time.

Pieter and his students get to see first hand, what their hard work and dedication to this project produced – a genuine and heartfelt smile from another child who now has an option that she would have never had before.

Zizi tries on her new hand  and Pieter helps her learn how to use it.

Zizi tries on her new hand and Pieter helps her learn how to use it.


Zizi testing out her "Fist Bumping" skills with her new 3D printed e-NABLE hand.

Zizi testing out her “Fist Bumping” skills with her new 3D printed e-NABLE hand.

Pieter shares, “The kids I am working with are around 14 years old and in the 9th grade. They have put their whole progress on their facebook page, which is awesome! Their next step is to start a foundation so that the money raised can be used for the foundation only and it will be held at our school and led by the children. They will be taught compassion, leadership and organization. It serves many good causes but the most important of these is enabling people by giving them hands.

The kids did a great job. Our printer even got broken (a very clogged extruder) and they fixed it themselves. 

In the past few weeks they learned to have meetings, co-operate, help and build. It’s unbelievable when you realize that at the beginning they needed a lot of instruction from me but by the end, I could sit down and watch them progressing and they were the ones that did the job! I am unbelievably proud of them!”

The Crew and Zizi!

The Crew and Zizi!

One of the most beautiful parts of this global movement of volunteers using their 3D printers to make free 3D printed hands for those in need – isn’t necessarily the fact that children and adults who had no option for assistive devices before, now have them.

The beauty lies in knowing that for every classroom that uses e-NABLE as their service learning project…dozens of young minds are inspired to create, collaborate and work together to bring their ideas and designs to life and improve the life of someone else in the process.  They get to see a life changed by the fruits of their labors and it makes an incredible impact on each and every one of them.

If you are a teacher or student group that is interested in getting involved – please contact our e3STEAM coordinator Rich Lehrer at e3coordinator.enable@gmail.com and help us to “Enable The Future.”

Thank you to all of the students and teachers who are helping to make a difference around the world, whether in the classroom and outside of it!


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A 3D Printed Hand For Yu-Lia • Creative Design


e-NABLE Vounteer, Martin van Wezel, created the Yu-Lia hand design named after the recipient he designed it for – focusing mainly on the “pincher grasp.” The other fingers are simply for aesthetic purposes.

When a typical 3D printed e-NABLE hand design won’t work for a recipient, every once in a while the e-NABLE Community finds itself blessed with a volunteer designer that likes to take on a challenge, push the envelope and use their problem solving skills to come up with a design that is custom made for an individual who is seeking a tool to help with every day tasks that would be easier if they had two functional hands.

e-NABLE volunteer, Martin van Wezel, is one those people that loves a challenge and likes to use his creative mind to solve problems. He shares, “I am a senior Continuous Improvement Manager in a Biotechnology company. In short, I am responsible for process optimization and innovative process design in a packaging plant. I am a graphic designer by education and the two worlds are combined in my hobby – creative expression and a mind to solve problems.”

While Martin had already created a “Raptor” hand for a recipient, he specifically asked to be matched with a recipient that had an upper limb difference that one of our “go to” designs would not work for. He found himself matched with Yu-Lia, who  is missing her index and thumb, while her middle, ring and pinky are merged into one finger. Yu-Lia’s limb difference also results in her wrist turning away from the hand and rendering the current e-NABLE designs unusable for her.


Martin shares, “The design is based on the “pinch” motion which is crucial for good hand function. Yu-Lia still had a functioning finger which I integrated into the design function to act as the index finger.

In this design, I used a 3D scan of her hand and modeled the hand around it. The mechanics are similar to the “Raptor” but relies heavily on the movement of Yu-Lia’s remaining finger, which essentially pulls the 3D printed “thumb.”


A 3D printed model of Yu-Lia’s finger was used to help design a device for her.

The design comes with 3 alternative tensioner links to provide different levels of leverage in the tensioning wire. The tensioner links and the finger tips are connected using short pieces of 3mm filament. (Why design a 3mm pin when you have tons in stock!)

I started this design for the hand from scratch using Fusion360 and this is the 4th and final prototype which is now being tested by Yu-Lia. You will notice the fingers are purely aesthetic as the hand is fully functional without them.”

When asked what his biggest challenges were in creating this design, Martin shared, “Not having 24/7 access to your model and finding the time to design. You can’t do this in 1 hour stints…it must be in 4-8 hour sessions. This was a “free-time” challenge at home.”

It took Martin about 5 months to get from the initial fitting, through the various prototypes and then to the final version of the device for Yu-Lia.

Because Yu-Lia's hand would not fit the typical e-NABLE device, Martin had to start completely from scratch on a design just for her.

Because Yu-Lia’s hand would not fit the typical e-NABLE device, Martin had to start completely from scratch on a design just for her.

Martin has now shared his design on Youmagine as an open source design with a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license along with the settings for his printer and bill of materials he used to create her device. There is a link to his design page below!

Volunteers like Martin, remind us that we all have the ability to make positive change in the world by using the skills we have, finding ways to use our hobbies and our free time to make a difference in the lives of others and using the power of our ideas, creativity and imaginations to gift the world with ways to help one another.

Do you want to join us?
Do you want to help us make a difference?

Please visit our Google+ community, our forums and our facebook page and say hello!



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e-NABLING Africa • 3D Printed Hands In Nigeria

While the e-NABLE Community has many wonderful stories to share as more and more children receive new 3D printed e-NABLE hands from volunteers, the stories that come from underserved areas in the world are the stories that really drive home how important the work our volunteers are doing is and how they are helping to shape the future for many.

This is one of those stories.

After insurgents burned their family home to the ground in Adamawa State, Nigeria during Boko Haram attacks, 12 year old Musa and his family fled to an IDP camp located in Abaji, Abuja where a member of the CyberLogik Foundation noticed Musa’s hand had been burned and offered to assist him in making him a 3D printed e-NABLE hand device.


When Musa was just 4 years old, he fell into the cooking fire when his grandmother stepped out of the kitchen for a moment and he lost his hand due to the burns and gangrene infection after spending 4 months in the hospital.

Members from the CyberLogik Foundation were able to gather images and measurements of Musa’s arms and 3D print him a “Cyborg Beast” hand device for him to use. They have also been working on a design improvement that they plan to re-share back into the e-NABLE community when they have completed the design remix.

Umar Khalifa Yakubu, of the CyberLogik Foundation found enablingthefuture.org while searching the internet on how to use a 3D printer to fabricate prosthetic limbs and was able to download the files he needed to help print a new hand for Musa in Abuja as well as a few RIT arms for people in need in Lagos and Sokoto, Nigeria.

According to Umar, getting 3D printers, parts and support is not an easy task in Africa. He shares,  “A lot of companies selling 3D printers, filament and parts do not ship to Nigeria. We have to ship to a warehouse in the US and ship to Nigeria using additional delivery services that charge extra. 3D printer companies also do not support  Africa so we cannot get solutions from them on technical issues or do a part swap when our parts fail. We have to buy new parts since we cannot get them fixed.”


This is a huge problem, not only in Africa, but in many underserved areas that our volunteers are attempting to create hands in. If they do manage to get a 3D printer there to use and then something breaks, the 3D printer sits as an unused pile of useless technology because it costs too much to ship new parts to replace the broken components or there are no tech support options available to them to fix the sometimes very simple issues that could have the printer up and running and printing more devices for the individuals they are seeking to help.

Umar shares that besides the lack of tech support and parts replacement options for them, unstable power in Africa is a huge part of the problem as well. He writes, “In Africa, Nigeria to be specific, we have erratic supply of electricity and this has ripple effects such as the need to provide back up power. We use a diesel generator and a UPS device so that when we switch from mains to generator…the power supply to our printer isn’t interrupted.”

On average, an e-NABLE hand device takes between 12-20 hours of continuous printing. In places like the USA where filament rolls are around $30-50 per roll and a maker can produce 3-4 hands from one spool – a failed print results in a lot of frustration and about $10 in plastic lost…but when you live in a country where the filament costs are nothing compared to the taxes and shipping costs you paid to get one single spool…having a 3D printed hand print fail at any point in the printing process is much more than just a disappointment. It’s expensive.

When asked what the greatest need is for Africa, Umar responded, “e-NABLE devices are an option. The designs themselves being provided for free is something awesome. We are looking at using local materials and techniques to fabricate e-NABLE hands in the future but there is also a great need for prosthetic leg designs.”

“The number of amputees in Africa is the greatest in the world. There are not enough people making prosthetic limbs, even for the people who can afford it…in countries like Mali, Uganda, CAR, Eritrea, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia and other poor countries with recent histories of war, disease, extreme poverty and terrorism.”

“The need we have is to have access to sales and support from the 3D printing community, have African support centers and probably filament and parts manufacturing so that we can buy without the huge shipping costs.”

Umar goes on to share, “e-NABLE has been an awesome experience and this is only the beginning. 3D printing is the ‘future of the future’ and we are excited to be part of the journey.”


“Our journey started with a thought that e-NABLE has made a reality. We have a passion for technology and a greater passion for humanity. e-NABLE has allowed these two passions to intersect and we know that as people around the world keep contributing and the community keeps growing…what e-NABLE fabricators, volunteers and enthusiasts will be making…and the impact those things will make in the lives of people around the world in a few years would be something AMAZING.”

I asked Umar – “What is your ultimate goal for your project?”

His response: “Our ultimate goal is to #enableafrica.”

This is our goal too Umar.

Thank you for helping us to see it unfold and for all of your hard work in making it come to fruition.

Are you a 3D printer company or a filament distributor who would like to donate materials or printers to help Umar and others in these countries and many of our other volunteers who could use help in getting parts and materials to use to create devices for the people in those underserved areas? Please email me at jen.owen@enablingthefuture.org – I would love to hear from you!


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3D Printed e-NABLE Hands In Paraguay


Elias and Jorge, both from Paraguay, “Fist bump” during a photo shoot with their new Po Paraguay e-NABLE devices.

In early 2014, medical student Eric Dijkhuis and electronic engineer Fernando Vallese, both from Paraguay, found themselves stumbling onto the enablingthefuture.org website and explored the ever growing e-NABLE Community Google+ group where approximately 200 volunteers (now over 6500!) had started gathering and planning ways in which they were going to “change the world” with 3D printed hands. The pair immediately volunteered to be translators and volunteers for the community with the aim to extend e-NABLE’s work into their home country and eventually their non-profit, Po Paraguay, was born.

Non-Profit, Po Paraguay, was formed to help get e-NABLE devices onto the people in Paraguay who are in need of assistive upper limb devices there.

Non-Profit, Po Paraguay, was formed to help get e-NABLE devices onto the people in Paraguay who are in need of assistive upper limb devices there.

Eric writes, “Po Paraguay ignited with e-NABLE. We were already working with 3D printing but as a hobby more than with a purpose. It is such an amazing technology and it wasn’t getting used to it’s full potential.

We found a barrier with e-NABLE’s method of giving hands away for free in Paraguay…donated hands for recipients by individual people with 3D printers was more a dream than a reality. With approximately 30 printers in my country, (counting very expensive prototyping type 3DS machines) it was unthinkable to address the big problem of lack of prosthetics in our country.

Less than 1% of the people who have contacted us have been able to try a prosthetic hand or arm. The government doesn’t have a set program to help these people and 3D printing is mostly unheard of as a technology here in Paraguay.

To date, Po Paraguay has created 34 3D printed hands for people seeking assistive devices in their country, one of which is Elias (Elijah) who Eric describes as “Amazing and inspiring.

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Enabling The Future In Brazil With 3D Printing

Dr. Javid Abdelmoneim and Al Jazeera visited one of our wonderful e-NABLE volunteers, Felipe Wiltgen, in Brazil a few months ago and followed him on his journey to finally get to meet one of the children he had created an arm for earlier this year as well as his first personal delivery of an arm to another child.

He shares, “Recent developments in bionic prosthetics offer many without limbs, a life changing opportunity..and yet for most, especially those in the developing world, these advanced prosthetics are financially out of reach…leaving them with little options or nothing at all. I’m in Brazil to see how new open source designs and advances in 3D printing are bringing affordable prosthetics to children all around the world.”

During the day, Felipe teaches engineering to students at a University and in his free time, he volunteers with e-NABLE, creating free 3D printed hands and arms for children in Brazil who are in need of an assistive device. Each hand that Felipe creates for someone, costs him roughly $100 USD in materials and energy costs, which he pays for himself and the recipient pays nothing.

He shares, “It’s a hobby that is helping people…I save up for it.”

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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!

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