Learn a little about the grassroots, open-source e-NABLE Community and our history!



Thank you for visiting our website enablingthefuture.org !

The place for information, stories and reference material about e-Nable, worldwide!

If you would like to learn more about the history of the field of 3D printable, open source prosthetics, please read below!


The e-NABLE Community is an amazing group of individuals from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device.

They are people who have put aside their political, religious, cultural and personal differences – to come together and collaborate on ways to help improve the open source 3D printable designs for hands and arms for those who were born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster.

The e-NABLE Community is made up of  teachers, students, engineers, scientists, medical professionals, tinkerers, designers, parents, children, scout troops, artists, philanthropists, dreamers, coders, makers and every day people who just want to make a difference and help to “Give The World A Helping Hand.”

For more on the history and continuing story of the e-NABLE Community – please see below!

Giving The World A “Helping Hand” from Jen Martin Studios on Vimeo.


In 2011 Ivan Owen created a crazy metal functional puppet hand to wear to our first ever steampunk convention. When we returned home from our adventure, he decided to post a short video of it on Youtube. Little did we know that one simple video clip would change our lives and thousands of others – forever.

A simple Youtube video of the hand led to an email from a carpenter named Richard from South Africa, who had lost his fingers in a woodworking accident and a collaboration across 10,000 miles to create a replacement finger for him that lasted nearly a year. They worked through various prototypes and designs via skype and email, using objects they could both find around their homes and respective countries.

This ultimately led to a mother of a 5-year-old boy contacting them to see about the creation of a tiny version of this hand for a little boy named Liam who lives in South Africa who was born with no fingers on his right hand.

corporal coles

Ivan started researching prosthetic devices and stumbled upon the story of Corporal Coles hand. It was created in the early 1800’s by an Australian dentist named Dr. Robert Norman who constructed it from whalebone, cables, and pulleys. This one hand, created over 100 years prior, inspired the design of what is now the building block for every e-NABLE Community 3D printed hand.

After creating the first prototype for Liam, Ivan realized that he would quickly outgrow the hand and started researching the use of 3D printing to create the next version. He taught himself how to use 3D printer design software and contacted a 3D printer company that donated 2 3D printers so they could work on creating a stronger and more functional design for him.

Together, they created the first 3D printed mechanical hand.

Instead of patenting the design for this new hand and making a profit, Ivan decided to publish the design files as open-source and public domain, so that not only could Liam have a hand, but so that people could download and print these devices for anyone that needed one too – anywhere in the world. In January 2013, the files went live on Thingiverse in their clunky, chunky, “Frankenhand” style and all we could do was hope that a more experienced designer would find them and take them and improve them and re-share…and boy did they ever!

In July of 2013,  Jon Schull, a professor at RIT, came upon a video featuring Liam using his newest 3D printed hand and noticed that people were leaving comments and offering up their own 3D printers to help make hands for people who might need them. He decided to see what would happen if he went and started a Google+ group and created a map for makers to share their locations so that people who were seeking a hand could find the closest volunteer. He left a comment on the video and invited people to join him and put themselves on the map.

The e-NABLE Community started with around 100 or so people who were simply offering to print the files that were already in existence and a handful of devices had been made..and then something beautiful started happening…designers started joining and doing exactly what Ivan had hoped they would…..they started innovating….collaborating and re-sharing the improved design files back out into the universe! It was incredible!

Within that first year – the e-NABLE community grew from 100 members to over 3000. They created over 750 hands for people around the world.

Within another year – they have more than doubled to nearly 7000 members and approximately 2000 devices created and gifted to individuals in over 45 countries.

All of these 3D printed hands and arms were free to the end user thanks to the incredible volunteers in our community.

As the community of makers began to grow, I decided to start a blog about this project to document the designs as they changed and morphed into better and more functional versions. Makers were joining the community by the hundreds every week and sharing and re-sharing their ideas and new files. More and more children were getting helped as we began a matching process that would connect a recipient to a maker willing to print and assemble a device for them.

After a while, my blog was no longer just a place to share the stories of the community, but it has morphed into a repository of “how to” tutorials, free 3d printable hand designssupport informationforums for those seeking advice, information for parents of children in need of a device, help for teachers who want to inspire their students and create service learning projects, a centralized calendar so people can meet our volunteers and get help in person at events, and so much more.

This is where families find hope for their children. Where children and adults who are born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster – can come to find stories of other people who have upper limb differences and who are using 3D printed devices that can help them with daily tasks that are easier to perform with 2 fully functional hands.

This is where volunteers come to find out how they can join the global community and use their 3D printers to make a difference in the life of a child who wants nothing more than to be able to ride their bike and hold on to both of their handlebars at the same time or have a “Superhero hand” to make them the “cool kid” in class instead of the child that gets teased or bullied because their hand is different.

This website is where I share personal stories so that people who read it can feel the love that is still out there in this world.

This is a place where people can find stories of hope and be reminded that there are still good people in the world who are putting their religious, political, cultural and personal beliefs aside to work together to use new technology to change the lives of thousands of people all over the earth.

It is incredible to think that a simple  prop mechanical hand was the catalyst for what is now a global movement and a community of makers, tinkerers, artists, designers, humanitarians, teachers, parents, children, engineers, occupational therapists, medical professionals, philanthropists, inventors and everyday people who are using their 3D printers and design skills to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those who need them.

You never know where your ideas and imagination will take you!

There are random strangers creating hands for children they will never meet.

There are teachers helping school children to learn to build hands for other children and inspiring them to turn around and use these experiences to find ways to change the world in other ways.


There are hundreds of scouts troops who are spending their free time to put on large build workshops to create hundreds of 3D printed hands to ship to places like Haiti and Syria.

There are parents creating devices for their own children.

There are people reaching out into their communities and helping people in places where medical care is hard to find and owning a traditional prosthetic device is nothing but a dream.

There are children who are learning to print, build and assemble their very own hands.

We are not simply writing the stories down and sharing them anymore – we are also connecting makers to families, answering questions and emails and providing a place where the community can continue to gift these files and designs openly and freely.

Together, we can change the world.

“Now all the fingers of this tree (darling) have hands, and all the hands have people; and more each particular person is (my love) alive than every world can understand…” – E.E. Cummings


This is the personal, privately-run website of Jennifer Owen. Jen is related to Ivan Owen, who co-created the first 3D printed hand for a child in South Africa and released the files open source so that anyone, anywhere in the world could take those files and print a hand for themselves or someone in need.

She has been a volunteer and participant in the field of open-source, 3D printed prosthetic hands for the past 4 years. Along the way, she has sought to highlight and document stories from the e-NABLE Community of volunteers on the topic of low-cost prosthetics from around the world, as well as to create an information resource for people interested in learning more about the history, design & fabrication of these devices.

76 thoughts on “ABOUT US

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  6. john marchlik Reply

    I sure am proud of your accomplishments.
    May God continue to bless you.
    May St Joseph help you
    john marchlik
    Aston, Pa

  7. Derek Wagner Reply

    This is beautiful!
    What wonderful people getting involved in this most worthy endeavour.

  8. robert yancey owner sewing solutions Reply

    I would donate a 1000.00 to research to stop hot car deaths. any ideas for a comprehensive alarm system to detect and protect children from hot car death.

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Thank you for your comment! Currently we are working on making prosthetic hands and arms – but there are many people out there in the world with 3d printers that may be able to tackle something like that!

  9. Melody P. Townsend Reply

    What you have done for this child is miraculous and wonderful! I am the grandmother of a 15 month old granddaughter who was born with PFFD (Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency) and I am desperate to help her lead a normal life. She is currently trying to walk with her second prosthesis and a gait walker, but her prosthesis will not stay on very well and prohibits her from many activities. Does the possibility exist that 3D printers may help people with leg deformities in your opinion? I have been researching her condition for months and I am in the process of contacting Shriner’s Orthopeadic for assistance as well. I am seeking any information from as many sources as possible and would so appreciate any help you could provide. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any help, etc.!

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Hello Melody! We do not currently work with lower limb devices but have seen folks who have created some customized leg covers but do not know if anything fully 3D printed has come about for legs just yet. If you google 3D Printed Prosthetic legs – many images and pages come up! It looks like there are people working on it out there in the world!

      Thank you for stopping by to say hello! I hope you find something for her!

    • Mark Deadrick Reply

      You might want to contact Andre Szucs. He is developing prosthetic legs here in San Diego with a lot of 3D printing assistance. He even was involved with the President’s maker fest at the White House earlier in the year.



  10. Linda Reply

    I am a mother of a daughter who has a mild form of cerebral palsy. She cannot use her right hand as well since it is weaker and the fingers don’t open as easily for her. Is it possible to use the gauntlet with cords attached to a glove to open her fingers and give them more function as her wrist moves normally?

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Hi Linda! We are actually working on an exo-skeleton specifically for these types of cases and will have something to share about it soon! It is still in the prototyping phase but we have something functional working already! Please keep an eye on our page for when we share!

  11. Amos Carroll Reply

    Hi this is amazing, I am a 53 yr old man and I ride bikes. I have always wanted something like this to help me with clutching my bike. If this is strong to do that I would love to have one. I was burn at the age of 6 months and lost fingers on both hands. The left hand is the worst. So if I am leaving this message in the right, it would be a blessing for someone to contact me about how I can, or if I qualify for one. My number is 850 661 1450, and my name is Amos Carroll. Thanks in advance.

  12. Donna Heeringa Reply

    I am the mother of a 9 year old little girl, adopted from China in 2007. She was born with missing radius bones. On her left hand she has five fingers, but only her pinky works correctly. On her right hand she has one large mono-digit. Is there anything your group could do for Emily??

  13. Tony Matias Reply

    Wanted to let you know that I find this project absolutely amazing and wonderful in so many ways!! I was wondering if any of your designs use conductive finger pads on the fingertips? That way they could be used on tablets and smartphones. Maybe it’s something you or your partners can explore. Again.. I think this is a great achievement that you’ve created and I’m saving up my money to buy a printer to, one day, be part of this all!! Keep it up!!

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Thank you Tony!

      Most of our recipients are young children and they are more interested in riding their bikes and playing ball with all 10 fingers and many of them are more skilled with the tablets and smart phones without the e-NABLE hands on and don’t seem to be too interested in finger pads on the actual devices. But this is a great idea for the older users! Thank you!

      Feel free to join us in the Google+ group!

  14. Hallgrimur Finnbogason Reply

    This organization is amazing! This is the most useful site I’ve come across in my research for 3D printed hands for my 4 y/o son, who currently believes that his hand will grow to be “normal” when he gets older.

    I’m looking for some assistance in this matter on how to get started on printing one for him.

    I’m a resident in Iceland and I haven’t heard of many people/organizations here that could help me except Össur, which of course costs a fortune.

    Best regards,

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hello Hallgrimur!

      We would love to help get a hand up there in Iceland! I think you would definitely be our first!

      Please email us at letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture.org and it should bounce you to our intake form and get you started on getting in touch with our matcher and seeing about finding a maker that is closer to you to help print and assemble for your son. 🙂

      Feel free also to email me at info@enablingthefuture.org (My name is Jen)

  15. Abby Reply

    We were using the beta hand measuring tool and the file it sent us isn’t being read by our MakerBot 3D printer. Has anyone else had this problem? Or is it just us?


  16. Bill deimling Reply

    Hello. Wow!!!! I am a co-founder of “May We Help” in Cincinnati Ohio. We do 3-D printing of gadgets to help people with various disabilities, a lot of them for musical reasons. We will be contacting you for your help in developing some things on the hand and possibly the foot. We do everything for free as you do. Once again, wow!!!! Check out our web site maywehelp.com We do lots of things that do not involve 3-D printing but what you have is wonderful. God bless.

  17. Clarice Blake Reply

    Do you have anyone in Indianapolis, IN that will produce a hand for a 5 year old boy.

  18. Jon Garratt Reply

    Hi , I’m looking into buying a 3D printer here in the UK , and am very interested in joining your network of helpers , I have over 25 years experience in manufacturing , engineering in various forms etc , my budget for a printer will be in the region of £800 – £1,500 ….in your experience could you recommend any reliable and accurate printers in this price range , your input would be very helpful.

    Kind Regards


    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hi Jon! Please visit our 3D printer page in our resources section! That might be helpful!

  19. Alana Reply

    My name is Alana and I’m an eighth grader in California. I recently found out about E-Nable through an article in the news, and was so interested that I’ve decided to make my science presentation about it. For this presentation, I’m required to do a demonstration, and I’d really love to have an example of a 3d printed prosthetic to demonstrate how it supports those in need. Yet, I am unsure as to how to make this work. My presentation is on the 27th. If you have any ideas, you can contact me whenever it works for you. I tried email but I have not received a response back in almost a month.. Thank you for any assistance you can provide me!

  20. William Reply

    I think you have done great things with the prosthetic arm and limbs but sadly a friend’s cousin has severe DMD and needs help walking or has to but very expensive leg supports. I know this would take lots of work but I think you would get funding from the national muscular distraphy association if you impart on it

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Unfortunately – our home based printers do not print in strong enough materials to be able to hold the weight of a person. 🙁

  21. Joseph Reply

    I think its very good and nice to help biuld hands my class has a 3d printer and were making hands for kids.

  22. Amela Mrkonjic Reply

    How can I get aqua leg for low cost . I’m disabled with no leg and they are so expensive

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hello Amela – unfortunately, we do not make legs at this time. Someday we hope to in the future but currently we only have designs for hands and arms.

  23. Anu Goel Reply

    Hi..I’m writing from India. My son has 2 fingers(thumb & small finger) adjoining each other in his right hand. Would it be possible to customize a gloved hand for better use of his hand?

  24. Marita Reply

    What a fantastic service you are providing for others! You people are wonderful.

  25. Charles Cyne Reply

    I would like to submit my first hand and I was wondering if it needs to be fully rigged or are you just evaluating the printed hand?

    I look forward to your reply


    Charlie Clyne

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hi Charlie!

      You can just send it in as a kit if you would like! We have folks that will look to make sure the print quality is up to speed and then the unassembled kits can be packed up and shipped to places that need them! 🙂 You are also welcome to assemble it as far as you can or want to. Its really up to you! Thank you for joining us!

      • Charlie Clyne

        Thank you for your quick reply. After you evulate do you offer feedback? Also, if you send the hands in to a recipient, will we be able to find out who received it and how well it works for them?


  26. William K. Grefe Reply


    I would like to introduce you to a boy named Julian I met through an event called Neighbors in Need over thanksgiving. He is a great kid full of energy kid, easy going funny kid. He was born with a partial left arm with a functional elbow. I have seen the enable arms that have been developed that can accommodate a person with a working elbow.

    I was wondering if a batman inspired armor arm would be plausible.

    I submitted the form and pictures last week to enable.

    He likes:
    Favorite Superhero: Batman
    Favorite Color: Red
    Favorite Shape: Squares
    Favorite animals: Sea pigs, California spiny lobster, Halibut
    Favorite Plane: The Ocean

    William K Grefe

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello William! We have a lot of volunteers who could potentially help and it looks like you filled out the form and are now waiting to be matched! If you find that you aren’t getting matched as quickly as you would like and want to try to build it yourself, please feel free to join the Google+ community and they can help you through the build!

  27. Cathy Reply

    Hello my name is Cathy and Melissa and we have a chihuahua who doesn’t have two working legs. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you so much

  28. Carla Lazcano Reply

    Congratulations, yesterday I saw in Chilean´s tv this news and Im very proud by your job. Change and help another people is a gift, you are the best in this. Only I wanna you continue with this and development more proyects cos you are good, I know this is to help people, God bless you for a really great job.

  29. francis Reply

    All i wanna say is God bless e-NABLE Volunteer Ghana chapter.Am new and i wanna partner with you guys.I will be attending the workshop at Afia Beach Hotel 21/feb/2016.seee you there. 2pm-6pm

  30. The Rev. Gerardo L. Cabije Reply

    In what way your group could help people with disability? What happened next after your printed designs? I am interested to know because I need help. I need prosthesis for both my legs (bk left & right). I met a slight accident last 2013 while facilitating a seminar/workshop on values formation for local residents here in the Phil. My right foot was hit by a sharp object that caused infection later due to unknown blood sugar excess. The wound was taken for granted until it was decided to have it amputated. two years later (last year), same thing happened to my left leg, now due to diabetic foot. I am serving a poor community of indigenous people here as an Episcopal Priest, but I have to stop my mission work in the ministry due to my physical disability and financial incapability due to my present condition. But i do hope and pray, God willing that I could still go back to my work and ministry when Im able to walk again. I am hoping and praying there are generous people out there who are willing to help me or recommend me to some groups or organizations who are willing to help fund for my prosthetic legs so I could go back to my mission work in the ministry. I know, by God’s help miracle is just around the corner. May you be God’s miracle for me. God bless you all! – Fr. Gerry L. Cabije, (Phil.)

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello Fr. Gerry – thank you for visiting our website. At this time, our volunteers can not make legs/feet or lower body devices due to the size of our home based printers, the materials that are not strong enough to bear the weight of a person and because they need to be fitted by a medical professional. You may want to email support@enablecommunityfoundation.org and they may be able to connect you with other medical professionals who have more answers for you than I do. Be well and take care. – Jen

  31. Cesar Mordacci Reply

    Hi! I am a graphic designer working on an article on e-NABLE and 3D printed prosthetics. I have been having trouble finding press-quality pictures to show that are also licensed for commercial use. Where can I get them? Thank you in advance.

  32. keith atkisson Reply

    I’m making the phoenix hand exclusively. What I need to know is the ages, male and female, associated with all the percentages of this hand including the 100% hand. such as; 105, 110. 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 150, 155, 160, 165, 170%. Our nonprofit makes hands exclusively at this time, however, in the future we also need to do feet and legs also. Do you know of a website or person I can contact that can help us out with 3d printing prosthetic feet and legs? We need to serve landmine victims also.

    Thank you very much and have a great day.

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello – Unfortunately, there are no numbers to share at this time as each size is not for specific ages, it is for specific hand shapes and individual needs. Generally, children need sizes from about 105% to around 140% and adults go larger.

      You are welcome to ask in the Forums and Google+ group for more specifics though!

  33. Mitchell cowan Reply

    Ok when I read this it made me so happy,keep doing this for the people of the world

  34. Judy Payne Reply

    Your video brought tears to my eyes. My son and his wife are in the process of adoption of three children. The middle child has only a couple of fingers on each hand. Son is in California in the Marine Corp. Is there any place he can go for a class on making 3 d printed hands?

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello Judy! Thank you!! There are many places he can go to get help to make a 3D printed hand for his child! Please have him check the “Chapters” page and also the “Get involved” page and see if there is a makerspace, library or school near him with a 3d printer and if not, please have him email me at jen.owen@enablingthefuture.org 🙂

  35. Cameron Spencer Reply

    I am a boy scout and am following in the footsteps of another San Diego scout to make 3-D hands for my Eagle Project. I have printed out all of the parts at the Maker Lab at the central library. I have started to fill out the paperwork on my Eagle Scout project proposal. One of the things I need is a beneficiary’s signature. Can your organization do that for me?
    Cameron Spencer

  36. mayank Reply

    can you give information regarding e-nable volunteers in india?

  37. Ian Willis Reply

    can you please supply information on any contacts in UK, my daughter had her left hand amputated due to Sepsis, also she only has part of her right hand, only complete finger is her thumb. She has looked at standard prosthetics but all are very heavy and impractical,

  38. Carolina Reply

    This is so great! Thanks for changing the lives of beautiful children!

  39. Felipe Reply

    Hi Enable community, for my last year of Biomedical Engineering, I developed a robotic arm controlled by muscle signals which is based on the Raptor hand. And to say thank you for the 3D printing files uploaded here, I would like to give a little back and make my dissertation research open source, so people can see what I did and improve it for themselves! If anyone is interested in it or know how I can upload it here, please let me know.

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