Enabling The Future

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


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Help e-NABLE “Give The World A Helping Hand.”

When the e-NABLE community first began in 2013, it consisted of about 300 people who owned 3D printers or who had design skills to share – that wanted to help improve the first open sourced design for 3d printed hands that had been released online. They simply wanted to use their machines to help to print and assemble free 3D printed prosthetic devices to anyone that reached out to them.

A year and a half later, our “matching system” now has over 1000 recipients in various stages and 3000 registered volunteers. This has grown from around 200 of each in May of last year. We have over 30 middle and high schools who are currently printing hands for recipients and groups of students and scout troops who are spending their weekends building hands for children they will never meet.

We now have volunteers printing in dozens of countries and our volunteer numbers grow every single week…but so do the heart wrenching stories that we find in our inboxes on a daily basis, pleading for help for their children or their neighbors or community members.

RosaStories of mother’s of multiple children… who have lost limbs in horrifying bus accidents or who have had their arms crushed in factories – in countries where there is no “Disability pay” and they now have no means to provide for their family. Emails that bring us to tears, reading about young children who have been deliberately mutilated by adults who use them as examples in their ugly games of war. The emails never end.

So far, the e-NABLE community has been able to sustain ourselves on the sheer love and goodness of the hearts of our volunteers who are spending countless hours answering emails, connecting families and makers, printing, assembling, traveling hundreds of miles to do custom fittings or teach others how to assemble these devices, spending their own earnings to purchase materials and paying for shipping costs to get 3D printed hands on those who are waiting patiently for their very own “Super Hero Hand.”

We want to do more than just match our Volunteers to people with a need for a 3D printed hand/arm that find their way into our inboxes and we are asking for your help to spread e-NABLE even further into the world than an online community can reach.

Our hope is that through our newly formed Enable Community Foundation – we can gather donations from those that do not have 3D printers themselves, but who continually ask how they can help in some small way.

A few of our current mission-critical volunteers have gone from donating 8-10 hours a week, to spending 8-10 hours a day helping to connect families to makers, providing community support, planning events, coordinating school needs and so much more and they simply can not continue to donate this much time without compensation so they can care for their own families, while caring for so many others. We need funding to help pay for their time so that we can continue to gift FREE 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need.

The Enable Community Foundation’s wish is that we can also internationalize our website and resources pages so that the files and information will be readily available to people of many languages and we have hopes to provide mini-grants for projects like providing shipping costs for mailing large numbers of hands created in “Build-a-thons” – to clinics in places like Haiti, Mexico and hospitals in war zones.

We would like to put on more special events like the “Prosthetists Meets Printers” conference at John’s Hopkins Medical Center last September, where we were able to educate medical professionals about 3D printed prosthetics and teach over 25 families how to assemble devices for their own children.

If you have just $10 a month to share to help us continue to provide 10 functioning fingers to the underserved populations in need of a prosthetic device – please consider signing up for recurring monthly donations or a one time donation to the Enable Community Foundation.

If you would like to contribute and also share our message with others by purchasing an e-NABLE t-shirt, we also have those available in a variety of sizes for men, women and children. Every little bit helps us to keep providing free 3D printed prosthetics to people in need.

If you are unable to contribute financially but still want to help – sharing our stories and our website on your social media channels helps parents and recipients to find us and your simple share on Facebook or Twitter can ultimately lead to a child receiving a new hand and contribute to the growing number of Super Hero Cyborgs roaming the earth!

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For those that are interested in getting a hand or creating one for someone – please visit our “Get Involved” page.

Thank you for your support, your generosity and for helping us to “Give The World A Helping Hand.”

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead.

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e-NABLE & Marvel Universe LIVE! – “Assembling To Save The Universe”

On January 28, 2015…6 young Super Heroes joined forces with e-NABLE and the cast of Marvel Universe LIVE!, in Dallas, Texas…to help save us all from certain doom at the hands of evil Super Villains! Together with their families, staff from Feld Entertainment, 4 members of the e-NABLE team and 5 cast members from Marvel Universe LIVE! …these 6 children, Hudson, Miah, Abby, Jax, Jackson, and Kinley – built their own “Super Hero” themed hands that would soon empower them to change the lives of many.

While some children that receive 3D printed e-NABLE prosthetic devices state that they feel like Super Heroes once they don their new brightly colored set of mechanical fingers…whenever we do events like this – we are constantly reminded that they were real life Super Heroes before they ever strapped their “upgrade” to their arms.

After spending a few hours helping to assemble new hands with these children and their families, some of the cast members shared some thoughts with us on their experience working to build e-NABLE devices with them.

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Romeo, who portrays “Nick Fury” in the show – shares, “It’s amazing to be apart of history. Not only do I feel privileged to help the kids build their own one of a kind hand, but it’s an honor to see technology at its best!” and Chailee who portrays “The Black Widow” writes, “e-NABLE allowed Super Heroes to make kid’s dreams come true – and help them realize they are the real heroes.”

Chelsea, who plays the role of “Storm” in Marvel Universe LIVE! shares, “Getting to be a part of something bigger than yourself is such a humbling experience, especially when you get to work with kids…my experience was amazing.”

“It kind of made me miss being a kid.” says Antonio, who plays Iron Man” in Marvel Universe LIVE!  “To see how much joy and energy they had, brightened my day. They reminded me to always look on the bright side and enjoy the company of others.”

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While he plays one of the “The bad guys” in Marvel Universe LIVE!  – the most poignant and heart warming reflection came from Vincent, who portrays “The Green Goblin.”

Vincent writes, “From the moment we walked in to meet all of the associates who had gathered to host this life changing event, the entirety of our cast and crew had nothing but smiles from one side of their cheeks to the other. We were shown some of the hands we would be assembling that day, and each one was unique in its own way…each and every hand had a personality, just as the children who walked through the door that day. 

From the moment they stepped in, and we were able to meet with them as well as their families – we all knew we were in for a wonderful and unforgettable experience. With out hesitation we all took to tables to introduce ourselves and begin learning about each of these children.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Happy Holidays From Our e-NABLE Family To Yours!

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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.

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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!

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Hands Across Borders • Scouts Making A Difference Part 1

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

THANK YOU!

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