3D Printed e-NABLE Arms…MAGIC!

(Please click on the image above to view the video of Derek getting his 3d printed e-NABLE arm!)

Jon Schull – the founder of e-NABLE has been working with a team at RIT to develop our first ever e-NABLE arm design! Below, he shares the story of Derek and Nathan, new design trials and….a whole lot of MAGIC going on!

From Jon Schull:

In April, we put out a call – inviting people who needed e-NABLE hands to come to Imagine RIT on May 3rd, 2014.

As it turned out, there were two candidates – nine year old Derek and 40 year old Nathan – both from Buffalo, near neighbors and both without wrists! Standard e-NABLE hands would not work for them!

The team at RIT started working on an arm and students Joshua Wilcox and Paul Richard developed a prototype and amidst the chaos of Imagine RIT – Derek invented the “Extra Long Arm” concept. Nathan, who is himself an occupational therapist, gave us good advice on fitting the device.

Three weeks later, Nathan and Derrick, along with David Dietz – visited our lab and met with Jascha and RIT student Jade Meyers and me (Jon Schull) as well as David’s uncle and David’s uncle’s buddy Skip, both of whom are now e-NABLE enthusiasts).

We made forearm casts using alginate and plaster of paris, compared notes and made plans. Derek’s mom and two grandparents were there as well and Nathan’s wife and…apparently it takes a village to make an arm!



Derek wore his new arm home, wore it to school the next day and reportedly loves it!

Since then we’ve used the casts, a digital scanner and modeling voodoo to develop custom forearm cups.

This past Friday, we presented them to Derek and Nathan in Buffalo where we were presenting at a conference on advanced manufacturing. (It’s been a busy week!)

Derek and Nathan both reported that the new forearm cups were much better fits and as you can see in this video, Derek just put it on and went to town!

Unfortunately, some assembly was still required for Nathan, who has been wonderfully patient while the little kiddo got all of the best toys. Today we tweaked the models, put the finishing touches on Nathan’s arm, finished the first draft documentation and decided it was worth sharing with other e-NABLERs!

It’s still early days. Arms are more complicated than hands and forearm cups need to be custom contoured and we still want to experiment with alternative actuation mechanisms. But at this point we would love to have a few enablers trying out the model and documentation, making it easier to scale and re-proportion.

We’d also welcome a few more recipient “test pilots” with functional elbows. A local e-NABLEr could help the recipient with measurements and the making of plaster casts and then our lab can help with custom forearm cups while the e-NABLEr assembles the rest of the arm.

Once we streamline our procedures and get some more experience – we’ll put the design out there for general consumption!

Personally, I can report that after a year of community building – it’s great fun to be actually working with recipients and playing with new technical solutions.

The MACIC ACT lab is becoming a real magnet for motivated and talented RIT students!

So…that is the story of the “Derek” arm and “Soon-to-be-delivered” Nathan arm (Nathan, we promise!)

If you would like to join the e-NABLE group and help make a difference, would like to share your ideas and designs with the community or would just like to join and support this amazing maker movement – please visit our Google+ community!

No contribution is too small!

17 thoughts on “3D Printed e-NABLE Arms…MAGIC!

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Hello Larry!

      We are actually working on that! We have a few teams that are working on contacting various organizations. It would be wonderful to work with those that have sacrificed so much for the rest of us – to get a chance to try these and once again be of service by sharing their feedback with the teams so we can improve our designs!

      Do you have any organizations that you think we could contact?

      Thank you!

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  2. Kathi Dellaca Reply

    My grandson was born without fingers and thumbs and no foot. His other foot is also not fully formed. He is a trooper trying to do sports and keep up in school in the standard classes. He is going into high school and I would love to see him be able to keep up with the others. He has wrestled but has to balance on his not fully formed foot and to use his wrists instead of fingers. The other young adults are getting more muscles and it is heart wrenching for him to lose most of the time now. He also is ADHD so tests are hard for him. He writes by putting a pencil between his two hands and is slower. With tests, it is hard for him to finish in time. I would really love for him to have help. He tries so hard to not be considered handicapped. He now thinks he wants to do soccer since the players do not use their hands. He is only able to walk or run on his prosthetic leg for a time without it hurting, though. It would be great if he could also have a more comfortable prosthetic. He goes to the Shriners, now.

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Hello Kathi!

      Thank you for your message! We would be happy to help get him a hand device that might work for him. We are starting to design some “Tool” type hands specifically for grasping pencils etc – but he may also be able to use a full five fingered design as well.

      The best way to go about this process is to fill out our intake form ( https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1fIiFAT8KN1qLPu8V9cxNRUPdifSHnGz0scQh4jykYSw/viewform ) and we can get you started on finding someone near you that can print out parts and ship to you or possibly even meet with you and make you a hand for him and teach you how to make it so that you can make the next one. 🙂

      Pleas also consider joining our Google+ Group where you can introduce yourself and share your need in the introductions section and see how many folks we can get to brainstorm something for him! 🙂

      Google+ group is here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102497715636887179986

      Let’s see what we can do!

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  9. Jason M. Bryant Reply

    How are the custom forearm cups made? Are they also modeled in plastic?

    I’m imagining using a 3D scanner to scan someone’s arm, them maybe doing a quick scan of their other arm (assuming it is whole) for a length comparison. Would that be a realistic way of automating the process and building the arms faster?

    I’m hoping at some point you have custom software that scans all the patients measurements and re-sizes the models automatically.

  10. Yerzhan Reply

    Where can I find finger stl files for this arm? Couldn’t find it in model. Or may be some of other finger models are suit to this arm

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hello! The files should be with this design – but if not – please visit our Forums and ask in there as the folks that are more tech savvy will be able to answer that for you!

      Here is the link!

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