E-Nabling Inspiration

Over the past year, the E-nable group has grown from having a handful of Makers and designers that wanted to offer up their printers to help make parts for children who needed a 3d printed prosthetic hand – to a community of creative and inspired people that bounce ideas off of each other on a daily basis and continually work to improve the design.

One of the main parts of the 3d printed hand is the cable tensioning guide that keeps the fingers in place and provides the appropriate amount of slack per finger so that they close properly when the wrist is bent. In the original design, they used a basic metal cylinder or rectangular piece and a machine screw to hold the cables in place – which meant that if one of the fingers needed replacing, they would have to release all of the finger cables and re-work the tensions on the fingers all over again.


They had tried many solutions, including a terminal block type design that would allow for one cable to be tightened at a time – as well as a dial in tensioning system.


A member of the E-nable group was inspired by looking at his guitar strings and the way each string could be tuned individually and created a tensioning system that allowed for each string to be adjusted by using a tuning peg. This design had promise, but when put to the test and placed onto a hand – it was just too big and bulky.


After one of the members had expressed frustration over not being able to get the new design to work for the hand he was trying to create for his son – the group immediately started brainstorming ways to use the same basic idea, but make it more streamlined and user friendly.

Another member came up with the idea to use a fishing swivel and a cut off set screw that would allow each individual string to be controlled and fine tuned for the finger they are needing more or less tension on. This would require some machine work that many people may not be able to do.

Within 24 hours, another member had an “ah-Hah” moment and started designing a tuning block that might be easier to use and  it was 3d printable. He came up with this design:

While this was being designed, another member started working on his version of a tensioning guide and produced a smaller cable guide that uses machine screws and a hexagonal pin that will allow each individual finger to be adjusted as needed – but without the bulk of the previous designs.


Within 48 hours, they bounced ideas off of each other from all across the globe – came up with designs, printed prototypes and tested their ideas out and found inspiration in each other to come up with a solution together.

E-nable is about innovation, inspiration, collaboration and a community of creative minds – coming together to make a difference.

If you are interested in participating in the design process, have a 3d printer and would like to help make parts for others in need of a hand or are or have someone you know that wants to try to make one of these devices – please visit our Facbook page or our Google+ Page


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  1. Pingback: A Hand For David | E-nabling The Future

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