E-nabling The Future

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


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.


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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!



Hands Across The World • Calling All Makers!!


Recently, we shared a story about numerous Scout troops in Baltimore, who have been assembling e-NABLE hands to send to a medical centers to various locations around the world which will be distributed to and fit to their underserved patients and Refugees who have been disfigured by war.

On December 13th, 2014, the Scouts will be working at an event with Johns Hopkins trauma surgeon, Dr. Albert Chi to assemble as many 3D printed e-NABLE hands as they can to send back with the representatives from the medical facility who will be visiting Baltimore to learn how to print, assemble and fit these devices to their patients.

If you would like to attend the event – please register on the event page HERE.

If you are a parent of a child or an adult in need of a hand or arm and are in the Baltimore area on December 13th and would like to come to the event at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and participate and see about getting a hand to take home – please come!

Want to help make a difference in the lives of children affected by war and poverty?

MAKERS! They need your help!

If you have access to a 3D printer and are able to print parts and send them to the scout troop leaders for the children to assemble – they need as many hand kits as possible so that they can send the hands to locations around the world to help those who are in the greatest need of help.

Please join us by printing Raptor model hands or donating to help cover expenses for the hardware to assemble them ($15/hand). Every hand will transform the life of the recipient. Every hand we receive opens up at least two seats at the workshop for Scouts and other volunteers who will always remember they were part of a youth-led project and a noble cause. Children 5 years old and under make cards to go with the hand; everyone who works on a hand signs the card. Children ages 6-10 work in teams with an older Scout or adult to assemble the hands. Older youth and adults provide support, work on tying cords and supervise use of power tools. With your help, we’ll build hands, and bridges.

The address to mail UNASSEMBLED Hand kit parts to is:
Patronage Church
ATTN: Hands Across Borders Project
1260 Stevens Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21227

Please place the unassembled hand kit parts into a ziplock bag and label them with the percentage size you have printed, whether it is a left/right hand and your name so the Scouts can add your name to a contributor and volunteer on the hand made cards they will be sending along with each hand created!

Everything received will be assembled. Hands for the Hopkins workshop need to arrive by 12/12/14. 
The Scouts have agreed to hold additional events and continue supporting the medical centers and clinics. Hands received after 12/12 will be assembled at workshops and in classrooms and sent. Nothing will be wasted.

For 3D printing instructions and files, check here: 

To select a size to print, go to this doodle poll, and claim a size that has fewer in process: 
Open the poll. Click the button under the description to see all options. Put your name on the blank and let us know what size hand you are able to print and send.

Register to attend our workshop at 

We’ll post news and photos on the enablingthefuture.org website after the event!

Thank you!

For more information – please email Maria – esquela.maria@gmail.com



Thank You Liam

Two years ago today, a little boy named Liam received the very first prototype that would eventually become the 3D printed hand devices that our e-NABLE volunteers are printing and gifting to hundreds of children and adults around the world.

An American prop maker traveled over 10,000 miles to bring 4 aluminum metal fingers to South Africa, where he and a Carpenter who had cut off 4 of his own fingers, would spend the entire day working together to assemble a mechanical hand for a 5 year old child. They all put their faith into each other and were determined to make it work. At the end of an exhausting day of innovation, collaboration and experimentation – Liam grabbed an item off the table with fingers on his right hand for the first time in his life and exclaimed, “It copies me!”

The design was rough.
It was bulky.
It lacked a strong grip.
It was itchy.
It was less than pretty.


But Liam did not give up.

He practiced every day and his wrist grew stronger and stronger. The co-designers realized that he was actually using this contraption…and succeeding…and that in no time he was going to outgrow it. The prop maker reached out to a 3D printing company and they donated not only one 3D printer…but two. One for each maker on opposite sides of the world.

The Prop maker taught himself how to use the printer and how to script and turn it into 3d printable files so that the Carpenter could print the designs and have Liam test them.

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 11.17.34 AM

And test them he did.

Even when it was clunky.
When it was too hot against his skin.
When it was not grippy enough.

Liam did not give up.

Because of this little boy and his strong will, determination to succeed and his family who encouraged him to keep trying – there are hundreds of children all over the world who are benefiting from these designs.


We would not be here today without him and today we want to say: “Thank you Liam” and trust that someday you will really realize just what an amazing gift you have given the world.

If you would like to leave comments for Liam below – please do!

Someday – he will really be able to realize what his refusal to “Give up” did to change the lives of many!




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Hands Across Borders • Scout Troops Make 3D Printed Hands

What do Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venture Scouts, Sea Scouts and American Heritage Girls have in common? They all spend a whole lot of time participating in activities that help their local communities…from litter pick up at the local Fair, knitting sweaters and making toys for pets at the local animal shelters, planting trees, scrubbing moss off of Veteran’s gravestones to gathering food for the local food banks and so much more.

These groups are always searching for a way to get these young people involved in making the world a little better place and now they are working to not only help those in their own local communities – but we have some troops in Maryland who have embarked on a mission to help make a difference in the lives of people who are clear across the world!

Maria Esquela and her daughter Sarah attended our “Prosthetists Meets Printers” conference in September and were inspired to take it a step further… they have started gathering the troops in Baltimore, Maryland to put together hand making workshops with the help of Dr. Albert Chi, a world renowned trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. 


The hands that these youngsters and their troop leaders are making – will be sent across the ocean to doctors and medical staff who distribute devices and fit them to patients there as well as to child refugees who have been disfigured by war.


They have had their first assembly workshop on 11.1.14 and Maria writes:
” We had our first assembly workshop yesterday. The scouts were helpful managing it but it cannot be said that they ran it. We worked on 19 hands. It was held at the Baltimore Robotics Center and attended by American Heritage Girls, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts. There were non-scouters from the community as well as from the maker community, interfaith/faith-based organizations (National Association of Muslim Americans on Scouting, Archeparchy of Pittsburgh Greek Byzantine Committee on Scouting and Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Committee on Scouting), and people Sarah and I met at the TedX talks in Baltimore the day before. The focus was working on the assembly process and mixing ages/generations in the builds. Good family response. Good promotion of STEM. Reached a lot of girls.”


This coming weekend, on Saturday, November 22nd, they will have another “hand-a-thon” build day where they will be assembling wrist driven e-NABLE hand devices as well as numerous RIT arms to send back with the medical team.

They were not intending to get to make a device for a local child during these events but it turned out that one of the scouts in their area who currently has a commercially made $40,000 Myo-electric arm – is unable to use the device and they will be helping him to make an e-NABLE arm instead.

Maria writes: “Participants at the November 22nd workshop will include 12 year old Christian and his family. Their Scoutmaster heard a presentation I gave at our county meeting last week. The family contacted me Friday. We included the Scout in our workshop with Dr. Chi on Sunday as our case model. Printing started on his hand before we left and he and his family made a hand at the workshop immediately following our visit to the Chi lab. They made a hand for someone else and they get their own tonight. Since they were present for the knowledge transfer on arm assembly, they are helping in the group – making arms at the workshop on the 22nd.”

These troops are coming together to create hands for numerous children who have been affected by the war and poverty – and they are once again able to help in their own community…and Christian will not only be helping to make his own hand, but will be teaching others how to make them for even more people. Just. Incredible.


They will continue to make hands during two more build dates on November 28th and December 13th and during the week long visit from the Medical team and could use your help!

Want to help them make a difference where it is needed? Have some spare filament and want to do something that will literally change a life with it?

They are in need of hand kits to be printed and mailed to them so that their scout troops can assemble them and any kits that are not assembled before the team heads back to their locations – will be sent to them for their medical staff to assemble as needed.

What they need:
• Hand kits printed and shipped (not assembled) in ziplock bags, labeled with their size and either left or right hand.
• Files can be found here: http://enablingthefuture.org/upper-limb-prosthetics/the-raptor-hand/
• They need sizes printed at 115% 125%, 130%, 135%, 140% and 145% in all different colors!
• Unassembled hand print kits can be mailed to:
Patronage Church
ATTN: Fr. Conan / Scouts e-NABLE
1260 Stevens Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21277

For more information and to make a donation to help provide the hardware, velcro, fishing line and padding – please visit their Event page.

“Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.” – Hellen Keller

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Tech Talk Thursday: Intro to 3D Printing

Starting on Thursdays, we’re going to feature guest bloggers from the e-NABLE community to share technical tips and tricks and discuss various challenges e-NABLErs face making hand and other devices. As a quick introduction, my name is Andreas Bastian and I have been an e-NABLE member since October 2013.  By day I’m a 3D printing research scientist at Autodesk’s Pier 9 facility where I shoot lasers and explore new 3D printing processes. By night I work on designing new hands and processes for e-NABLE.

3D printing is one of the core technologies that lets e-NABLE do what it does.  As a fabrication process, it has a lot of capabilities that traditional tools have not.  3D printers can build objects that have internal structure, interlocking parts, and traditionally difficult shapes.  But when rubber meets the road, 3D printer operators are often faced with a wide variety of practical parameters when running their machines.  Today we’ll talk about some of the machine settings that affect print strength and quality.

Continue reading


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e-NABLING Education • The Convent of Sacred Heart School

When the first 3D printed hands were being made 2 years ago, one of the original designers had the hope that instead of having thousands of people relying on just two men to help make hands for people in need – that we would somehow be able to find a way to teach others how to make these devices and in doing so, we would be able to watch them teach even more people and …witness the idea grow into a global collaborative effort to make hands for people in need.

It appears that is exactly what is happening…and it is absolutely beautiful.

Not only are adults teaching adults how to make these hands, but children and young adults are now making these for other children and for every person that learns how to make a hand – they can then teach another… and the need to rely on just a handful of individuals to create these devices – is shrinking by the day. We now have entire groups of children learning how to make these and becoming inspired to share their knowledge and continue “Making.”

For the past few months, we have learned of many schools who have been bringing e-NABLE into their classrooms of math and science students as well as after school robotics and engineering programs, but until this point, we have not had a chance to really glimpse into the process they are going through and usually just get to see the final product and resulting smile on a child’s face.

Thanks to the wonderful teachers at Convent of the Sacred Heart School in New York and their amazing students – we are getting to watch the process and visit the classroom as they learn to size, measure, design and problem solve – using e-NABLE hands as their project. These students are making hands for THREE children.

We asked teacher Tanya Lerch to tell us a little about what they are doing at CSHNYC:

Can you tell us a bit about your project?

I teach two geometry classes and one Algebra ll class.  Each of my geometry classes is pairing up with an engineering class to collaborate on a hand.  The Algebra II class will work independently (most of them had me last year and did another project on the 3D printer so are more familiar with it and the Tinkercad software). 

We have three recipients: two six-year-olds and one 16-year-old. The six-year-olds both have use of their thumbs, which will be factored into the design modification of the Raptor hand; the geometry/engineering classes will work on those.  The 16-year-old is missing both hands.  Three teachers and I are creating one of his hands, and my Algebra II class will create the other.

Next week, we will meet for four days (periods are 40 minutes long).  In groups of two, students will first each work on doing the calibration and the measurements of the hands (this teaches them about scale factor, measurement skills, and the virtual measurement software- tracker).  They will also generate the .STL files.  They will then work on problem-solving, such as how to remove the thumb from the Raptor hand design for the six-year-olds.


We are also having students do some fun customizations, such as adding a Lego piece to the print build for one child who loves Legos, creating a snap-on stylus finger tip for the 16-year-old to use with his iPad, and using different color combinations to make the hands fun and in the favorite colors of the recipients.  The files will get sent to the printer and the students will be able to check the progress periodically.  Once all pieces are printed, the pieces will be set up in ‘stations’ in the engineering room.  The students will have to go in independently, with their partners, and will each be responsible for one set of the assembly steps.  Before they start, they will have to demonstrate their knowledge by passing a quiz that asks them to identify all parts and tools.  They will be required to document their progress and successful completion of each step with photos.  Once each hand is complete, we will reconvene to test and trouble-shoot, and then pack up and ship the hand to the recipient.  We are very excited that one recipient will be coming in to pick it up in person (December 5). 

All steps and resources are documented on the website:

We are hoping other classes at our school will be able to replicate this project in the spring.

How did you find e-NABLE?

Jerry Castanos at 3D Heights mentioned it.  

What made you decide to do this with your students? 

Part of our school’s mission is to inspire in our students a social awareness that impels to action. We have a thriving community outreach program, and we really value service-learning opportunities.  Constructing the hands seemed like a great way for the students to use some of the technology we are so lucky to have, in a way that helps others.  The project will also help them learn about incredibly useful real-world applications for 3D printing, engineering and math!


Did you come up with your own curriculum for this project?

Yes, with input from other teachers 

How did you find your recipients? (Did you go through Matcher?)

Yes, we went through Matcher. 

What do you hope your students will gain from this? What about you?!

We are hoping that they will be extra-motivated regarding this project because they know that their hard work will help someone in need.  We also hope they learn skills that are useful in the real world outside the classroom (measurement, scaling, problem solving, fine motor skills, documentation), and that they have fun!  We also think they will benefit from interacting with kids of different ages in different locations with disabilities.  We hope this is something memorable for them.  

Anything you would like to say to other educators about e-NABLE and what you feel it could bring to the classroom (to those schools with 3d printers AND without (if maybe we started sending 3d printed parts to classrooms so they can assemble them together?)

The overall cost is SO minimal –15$ per hand for the extra parts, and probably $5 for the filament used – yet we are making such a difference.  Yes, the 3D printer is “cool” and makes fun things, but the real benefit is using it to help others in very real ways.   The sacrificed class time is minimal in comparison to what the students will gain.  Sending parts to classrooms to assemble together might be great for younger students such as those in 5th through 8th grade. 

We are looking forward to watching the updates as the students finish up the assembly and start delivering hands to their recipients and we are also excited to be getting more and more emails from teachers who want to start incorporating this into their own curriculums!

Our volunteers are currently working on putting together an official curriculum for K-12 and College Classes. Once we have something solid in place – we will share on our website for any teachers, anywhere – to use!

If you are interested in being assigned a child to create a hand for in your own classroom – please email us at info@enablingthefuture.org.