Jose Delgado JR, a 53 year old who was born without most of his left hand, visits e-NABLE member Jeremy Simon to discuss how his current $42,000 myoelectric prosthetic compares to the $50 3D printed “Cyborg Beast” hand that Jeremy created for him.

You can read Jeremy’s blog post HERE.

Please click the image above to be directed to the Youtube video of Jose describing the differences and comparisons between the two.

As this video has gotten shared over the past 24 hours the question of how the $50 price tag for the 3D printed hands has come up.

What does it mean when people say these hands cost $50?

It is important to note the difference between the cost of retail devices and the cost to produce one of the open-source 3D printed hands.

1. Printed plastic and hardware for many of the hands made by the e-NABLE group comes to less than $50 in materials.

2. The design, research, development and prototyping time for these designs that normally would be included in the cost of such a device – has been donated by many individuals in the e-NABLE community who do not ask for compensation for their input or time spent helping problem solve or design these files. This is partially due to the way in which the development process is distributed. With many people volunteering their time, the development workload is spread across a large number of people. This is very similar to the way in which software systems like Linux and Apache Web Sever  have been developed… but instead the concept is being applied to physical devices.

3. If you do not have access to a 3D printer – we now have a community of makers, 3D print companies, Maker Faire organizers, schools and libraries around the World who are willing to print the $5-15 sets of plastic parts needed to create these devices for people. (These devices can be printed on consumer-level printers that cost between $400-$3000+)

4. There is no patent on these devices. They are open source and thus no rights have had to be purchased to use or make them. The people who have donated their time and talents to creating these files and devices have given the files away for anyone to use, make or alter – simply for the sake of creating something that has potential to help others. The only restriction on some of the files is that they are only used for non-commercial purposes or that the original designer is given credit for their work.

5. In the realm of more detailed research, a team at Creighton University in Nebraska is in the process of conducting an approved research study on the use and utility of one of the 3D printed partial hand designs. The Creighton team members are also members of e-NABLE, so here again the open-source community is benefiting from the contributions of highly skilled individuals who are contributing their time to move the project forward.


It is because of these factors that it is possible to produce a partial hand for a financial cost of less than $50 as compared to a retail device with a price of thousands. It is important to remember that the true “cost” of one of these hands, if you were to quantify the contributions of all of the team-members, would be higher. This does not, however, detract from the fact that if a family were to build one of these in their own homes for a loved one their out of pocket cost would be around $50 if they could find someone to print the parts for them.

The reason why this is so incredible and why it is possible for such a low out of pocket cost to for a family using one of these devices to exist is that an entirely different model is being used for production and distribution of these systems. Instead of a business and retail model being used, this is instead being accomplished through a communal model of shared time and resources relying upon the generosity of people who are willing to contribute their talents and free time to creating something that can be beneficial to others – including the parents and end users of the devices.

“If someday they say of me that in my work I have contributed something to the welfare and happiness of my fellow man, I shall be satisfied.” – George Westinghouse