Enabling The Future

A Global Network Of Passionate Volunteers Using 3D Printing To Give The World A "Helping Hand."


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The FDA: e-NABLing The Future Of 3D Printing


Over the past few days, some of our e-NABLE members have been at the FDA Public Workshop: Additive Manufacturing Medical Devices: An Interactive Discussion on the Technical Considerations of 3D Printing.

A workshop focused on getting members of the FDA, medical field, educators, companies and inventors together to talk about the evaluation process and how 3D printed devices should be assessed.

One of our core members, Peter Binkley, attended and shares his thoughts below:

“I just arrived home from the FDA workshop on Additive Manufacturing of Medical Devices. Those of you who attended the Hopkins/e-NABLE conference may remember Lt. James Coburn from the FDA who attended and was a speaker. He is completely supportive of our efforts. He was one of the main facilitators of the workshop yesterday and today. He and his colleagues in attendance (Matthew Di Prima, PhD; John F. Gillespy, FDA Chief Regulatory Officer; Steven Pollack, PhD, Director of the FDA Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories; Katherine Vorvolakos PhD; Irada Isayeva PhD; LCDR Michel Janda; Christina Savisaar, PhD; Joel Anderson, PhD; Jennifer Kelly, PhD; Mark H. Lee, PhD) are quite aware that the impact of the FDA on the pace of innovation has not always been a positive one, and that actually following existing regulations would paralyze research in many sectors. The FDA culture today seems to be guided down the chain of command by a philosophy that they need to encourage change and growth if we are to survive as a nation and as a planet. They seem quite determined to remove, reform or ignore many existing regulatory barriers, especially for projects that have potential to really help people. During one of the breaks today, I happened to meet a project manager from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia whose team is being *funded* by the FDA to bring medical devices for children to the market.

My impressions of the FDA based on my first direct experiences with their personnel were incredibly positive, and I think our e-NABLE volunteers also made a good impression. I think they will be strong allies for e-NABLE as we move forward.

I should also mention the NIH (National Institutes of Health). On the first day of the workshop, I had the pleasure of speaking with Darrell Hurt at length. He and his team are also 100% behind our efforts. They are excited to host our files and documentation on the NIH 3D printing Exchange https://3dprint.nih.gov and have really gone the extra mile to maintain lines of communication and accommodate our needs on the exchange.

It is pretty ironic that as soon as I arrived home I saw a link to this article on Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngoodman/2014/10/07/save-the-children-from-the-fda/
Mr. Goodman is quite ignorant about e-NABLE, and in particular its relationship with the FDA, and about the FDA in general.  He uses our organization to malign the FDA, ignoring all facts surrounding our actual interactions with the people of that agency. Please do not criticize the FDA in its current administration, unless you have actual experiences and data to back your views. The FDA is actively reaching out to e-NABLE and has been nothing less than wonderful. Articles like Mr. Goodman’s only serve to harm the relationships the FDA is actively and constructively cultivating with business, educational institutions, non-profits, and the public-at-large.

More on the Workshop

The industry leaders at the workshop were as dry and theoretical as you can imagine. They seemed so determined to guard their trade secrets that all they offered were vague references to “proper settings and standards” without giving any practical numbers or figures. I heard complaints from more than a couple attendees that all we were getting from these “experts” was a sales pitch for products and services nobody could afford, and nothing in the way of actual sharing of information.

By contrast, the presentations by university researchers were incredible and incredibly informative, like: How to hack a 3d printer and an HP26 inkjet cartridge and print freaking human organs!! Something like a dozen major living organs and tissues, including composite tissues successfully printed (You need two or three inkjet cartridges for this. Search the trash can!), and 20 more to go!! Third degree burns? No problem! They can culture your skin cells and print some new silky skin directly onto your burn site! Are you kidding me, Wake Forest SC?!?


Other presentations included 3d-printed bio-absorbable tracheal supports for infants with collapsed windpipes. Typically a fatal condition, saved by the printer and some very smart, very compassionate people. Also some exciting work on the imaging of pediatric heart defects.

The breaks between discussions were amazing too, Jon Schull, Mohit Chaudhary, and I got to meet with some very cool and talented people, some of whom joined or will soon join e-NABLE and who may be instrumental in various future e-NABLE initiatives.

I’ll let them introduce themselves.”

We look forward to discussing the future of e-NABLE further with the FDA and the NIH and will update our blog in the coming weeks and months to keep you informed!If you are interested in becoming a part of this amazing chapter in history – please feel free to join us in our Google+ Group!


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e-NABLING Families Around The World • Turkey


One of the main hopes of our e-NABLE community of volunteers – is that parents and families of those in need of devices will not only learn how to create and assemble these devices together on their own, but will turn around and start teaching other families to do the same.

We love getting stories of families that have created hands for people they love and we know that you do too!

Recently, we saw a post in the Google+ group from Julian about 7 year old Ian and his new Cyborg Beast hand that they had created together for him as a family.

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Peregrine And His 3D Printed “Cyborg Hand” Adventures!


One of our oldest device users and biggest “Feedback giver,” Peregrine Hawthorn, will be part of our panel presentation during our “Empowering Parents” portion of our conference at Johns Hopkins Medical this coming weekend with his Dad, Peter Binkley who designed the Talon hand, Ody hand,  the Flextensor design and collaborated on the nearly released “Raptor” design as well!

We asked Peregrine to share a little bit about how he got involved with e-NABLE, what kind of things he has been doing with his devices and to share some thoughts for parents who are wanting to create these hands for their own children.

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e-NABLING Brazil • Super Heroes Around The World

Marcelo Botelho is a student of mechanical engineering, a product designer and a 3D Printing enthusiast located in Brazil. Earlier this year, he came upon a video online about 3D printed prosthetic hands and decided he wanted to try making one for Luanderson, a young boy who asks for money in the streets.

The first design failed due to the high costs of the materials required to create the design he had found and he was unable to complete the device for young Luanderson. A school teacher contacted him after seeing a newspaper article about his first attempt at creating a 3D printed device and asked if he could make a hand for one of her young students, a little boy named Kelvin.


Kelvin is a young boy whose family struggles in the outskirts of Sao Paulo and he was ashamed of his hand and always hiding it from people. Marcelo did not give up on making a 3D printed prosthetic hand and started to search online for another design in hopes of finding one that would not require the same types of expensive materials as the first design he had attempted. In his search, he found e-NABLE‘s “Cyborg Beast” design on Thingiverse and downloaded the files.


Because e-NABLE strives to make our designs as low cost as possible – Marcelo was able to complete a device for Kelvin and even created it in the theme of “Ben 10” – one of his favorite cartoon characters. He wanted him to feel like a super hero and presented it to him at his school. In the video above, you can see him getting fitted for the device, playing with toys and taking a moment to himself to enjoy his new fingers.

Marcelo hopes that media will discover him in his country so that he can share the news of e-NABLE, help find a way to get more 3D printers into communities that need help with low cost prosthetics and to teach others how to make them.

Now, because of e-NABLE’s designs, Marcelo can finally make a completed hand for Luanderson too.


The hope of e-NABLE is to continue to work toward designs that cost as little to produce as possible, so that families and individuals in countries where supplies are limited and far too expensive to acquire – can simply print out most everything they need to create  them. Our goal is to produce designs that cost little to produce, are safe and comfortable and can be easily assembled by anyone, anywhere around the world.

We hope to begin outreach to countries with underserved populations and start a global effort to educate people about 3D printing and just how much of a change it can make in the lives of people from all over the world.

Would you like to help make a hand?
Would you like to get on the wait list for a hand?
Would you like someone to help print parts for you so you can make one of these devices for someone you love?

Please email us at letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture.org

To help us get materials, purchase 3D printers and get teams of volunteers to teach others in underserved locations around the world who have a great need for low cost and easily assembled prosthetic hand devices – we welcome any donations you would like to provide.

Thank you for helping us make a difference.



Making Children’s 3D Printed Prosthetics…”SUPER” Awesome…With A Wolverine HAND!


Sometimes…our volunteers get a little crafty…a little artistic and a whole lot – “SUPER” AWESOME! 

One of our volunteers, Aaron Brown, decided that he wanted to build a hand to take to a local children’s hospital and the MakerFaire in Grand Rapids, Michigan and wanted to try using some bright colors…and it just so happens that the college sports teams there are known as the Wolverines.  Aaron writes, “The Comic loving nerd inside of me (along with some Facebook friends) said there is no way I can make a Wolverine hand without CLAWS…so I modeled some in Sketchup the morning before the makerfaire, printed ’em, spray painted ’em silver and velcro’d ’em on there. Turned out pretty darn cool!”

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3D Printed Prosthetics Study – e-NABLE Hands At Creighton University

(Click on the image above to visit the video about 3D printed e-NABLE hands at Creighton University.)

There are increasing numbers of children with traumatic hand injuries due to war, natural disasters and accidents as well as congenital upper limb differences where children are born without completed arms, hands or fingers due to amniotic band syndrome or other complications during development. It is reported that 1 in 1500 children are born missing fingers.

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re:3D Gifts A Gigabot To e-NABLE The Development Of 3D Printed Arm Designs!


“re:3D and Gigabot are very excited to be part of e-NABLE with our mission of printing with a purpose. It is our goal to provide an affordable industrial large format 3D printer to enable the community. We began with the idea of creating a robust 3D printer large enough to make composting toilets, rainwater barrels and useful items for humans – at the human scale. Our Gigabot printer is now supporting higher education, artists, entrepreneurs and business across the USA and more than 26 countries around the World.”
– Matthew Fiedler (Founder and Chief Hacker – re:3d)

As e-NABLE has grown over the past year, we have gone from working on improving the original 3D printed mechanical hand design – to having developed 5 functional designs, partial finger replacements, a myo-electric arm design and our team at RIT is working on a mechanically driven arm design as well. 

While the desk top printers work wonderfully for printing the hands, the arm designs require a much larger printer bed to produce the parts needed to create them.

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