Chance Encounters That Enable The Future



Sometimes it seems, that the stars align in just the right way, that our e-NABLE Volunteers find themselves in exactly the right place at the right time to help someone in need…kind of like “real life superheroes.”

This is a story of a chance encounter, that many of our e-NABLE Volunteers dream of.



Chance Encounters That “Enable The Future”

Guest blog post by Lorin Lindell – Western Washington University

Imaginations have continued to soar as more and more e-NABLE hands are being produced for children all across the world. Frozen, cyborg spies, sport teams, Star Wars themed, you name it and there is a hand to fit it. For 8 year old Kali Hopkins they key word was SpiderMan.

This e-NABLE RIT arm was made by Brandon Hart who met Kali’s grandmother Donna Hopkins while at a local hardware store in Des Moines, Iowa. “I was getting screws for the Raptor Reloaded hand I was currently working on and she mentioned that her grandson was missing part of his arm.  She got excited as I showed her how it works and that there are other models for arms rather than hands.  Just then, the hardware store manager walked over and tapped Donna on the shoulder.  She told Donna that, “Kail just walked in.”  Amazingly, there he was.  He loved the hand, and it was at that point it became clear that I was going to make an arm for him.”

Kail was the first to receive a 3D printed e-NABLE hand from Brandon. Kail received the hand at the Science Center of Iowa, which not only allowed for several guest appearances, including Spider Man and various villain friends, but also provided Kail with several exhibits to interact with and use his new arm.

“He’d never experience fingers on that hand, let alone jointed fingers,” said Donna Hopkins. With the use of his e-NABLE hand Kail will be able to partake in activities he struggled with before, such as riding a bike. Prior to his Spiderman hand, Kail was using a wooden claw.

Brandon became involved with 3D printing and making these hands after seeing a model of an e-NABLE hand on Google+. He did a quick search of e-NABLE and was in awe of the work they were doing. Brandon has started his own company called HartSmart, originally with goal of being a contract 3D printing service. With time however, it has transitioned into making requested products, such as the arm for Kail. While Donna did offer to pay Brandon he insisted he would do it for free.

“I am so blessed and pleased to have met Brandon and his family and to know that there are still people out there with that kind of heart and that kind of caring. Warms my heart,” said Donna.

Stories like this are what keep our community thriving and growing! It helps to continue to inspire more and more tinkerers, teachers, students, libraries, makerspaces, fablabs and universities to delve into the incredible world of 3D Printing and see how they can also “Lend A Helping Hand” to someone in need.

If you are interested in creating a local e-NABLE Chapter in your own area to help local families like Kail’s to create their own 3D printed hands and arms, please visit our e-NABLE Chapters page.

If you are interested in purchasing your own 3D printer or providing one for a school or library in your local area to help create these devices – please visit our 3D printing page where our good friends at Matterhackers will help you to find the best printer for your needs!

If you have a story to share with us – please submit your stories (4-5 paragraphs) to jen.owen.enablevolunteer@gmail.com and include images and video links to accompany your story!