E-nabling The Future

A network of passionate volunteers using 3D printing to give the World a "Helping Hand."


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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.

We asked a few questions:

Q:  How did you find out about e-NABLE? Where are you located?

We can’t remember exactly how we first heard about e-NABLE as we’ve know about it for quite a while.  My wife follows several upper limb difference groups on Facebook and we presume it was through one of them – maybe the Lucky Fin Project.  We moved to Ankara, Turkey in June and I was able to find a shop that sold 3d printers in Istanbul.  We first heard about the hand when we were living in Rabat, Morocco but we couldn’t find a printer there so had to wait.  I am British and my wife is Korean and we move country every few years for my job.

Q: What kind of need does your child have? Can you tell us a little about the hands or the situation?

Ian was born without any fingers on either hand.  None of the medical professionals we have seen has been able to explain why and his twin sister has the more traditional 10 fingers.  When he was 1 he had a policisation of the index metacarpal on his right hand to create a cleft and a bit of a thumb in the UK.  Between 2-5 years old he had several operations on his left hand in Korea to lengthen his peripheral metacarpals.  He is able to do pretty much anything his sister and other kids of his age can.  His only real frustration so far was not being able to swing on the monkey bars at his old school.  We made the Cyborg Beast because it looks so cool rather than because he needed it to improve his hand function (his sister is very jealous she doesn’t have one.)


Q: It looks like you made the hand yourselves! This is so awesome! Can you tell us if you had any help (and from whom?) and if you found it easy enough to create or was it really difficult? Any thoughts on the assembly of it and if your son helped at all?

Yes, we did :)  I bought an Ultimaker Original kit and the hand parts were some of the first things we printed.  We had to wait for a while to get the hand materials kit from 3duniverse through Turkish customs but the pdf instructions and the videos were all the help we needed.  The twins both helped assemble the printer and also put the hand together with me.  We had loads of fun and it was great family project.

Q: What are your plans now?

Ian’s hands are quite wide as a result of his operations so the palm from our first attempt is a bit too tight.  We are reprinting with asymmetrical scaling to see how that works but our next big task is to learn how to edit the design files so we can print a custom designed palm for him while keeping all the other parts to the same scale.  We are also going to print a Raptor for his right hand as getting the screws for the Cyborg Beast was a bit of a challenge in Turkey. So far we have only used PLA but I plan to get a heated bed kit for the Ultimaker when it is released so we can do them in ABS too.  We are also signing up as e-NABLE fabricators and hope we can help other people with upper limb differences in Turkey.

Q: What is he using the device for mostly? Do you have any photos of him using it that we can share? 

He is still getting used to it and it’s a bit tight so he isn’t wearing it for long periods of time at the moment – he mainly makes it into a fist and acts like he’s boxing me!

Q: Would you like to share anything with us about being a parent of a child with upper limb differences and what you think e-NABLE can do to help?

It is heartbreaking that our child was born with this condition. But it is important to accept them as they are and try not to interfear too much with what they are able to do. I think it is very important to be honest with the child and talk through whenever there is a difficulty to over come and remind them that everyone has some sort of difficulties regardless of their physical condition. We also think that we have to be very careful that this condition does not define them – just like everyone is different! We try to show him that he can do everything he wants therefore what he can do and cannot do is more about deciding what he wants to do rather than due to the physical condition he has.
We think e-NABLE is doing a wonderful job and it is great that so many people are giving their time and resources to help others.  All I can ask is that you keep doing the R&D, keep sharing the results and keep matching fabricators to people who need a prosthetic.
We think that raising awareness about congenital limb differences or loss of limbs is very important as this could happen to anyone in an accident. Just spreading the word so people don’t stare can make a huge difference to how people with limb differences feel.

If you are interested in having someone print parts for you so that you can build a hand for your child, want to sign up to donate printed hand parts to those in need of devices or are seeking help to get a hand built for someone you know – please email letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture.org and it will direct you to the intake form and help get you started!

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I LEARN.” – Benjamin Franklin


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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.

How long have you been using these hands/how did you get involved?

I got involved with e-NABLE when my dad and I saw a video of a kid with a hand like mine (without fingers) picking up things off a table with 3D printed fingers. We were absolutely floored and immediately set about trying to make one for me. This was a bit over a year ago, and now, after we finished my first hand in late august of 2013, I can say it’s been a great experience.

What has it been like for you as an adult user? What do you use it for? How often?

I got my first hand after graduating high school, just before turning 19, so I never got to go to school with one, or see how useful it is in a classroom. What I did get to do was see how useful it was after all that. I carried massive amounts of groceries into the house, and pulled thorny weeds from the garden.  I held my thermos of coffee while waiting for the metro to go to work, where I sorted packages for FedEx. I flip pages of a book during long bus rides. I helped actors change their costumes in the 10 seconds they had before their next scene, and held their mics while I replaced torn cords and bad batteries.

I joined Americorps, and rebuilt houses destroyed by tornadoes in Oklahoma, everything from holding a nail to carrying scaffolding boards over the mud. I use it to hold water bottles while I open the cap, and to hold my wallet while I fish something out of it. I do all these things, and quite a lot more. It’s honestly much, much more useful when I’m out and about than while I’m back at home, but it’s great once you’re out there.

You have all three versions – which is your favorite? Why?

Since joining e-NABLE, I’ve had the privilege of testing three different models of hand: the Talon, the Cyborg Beast, and the Raptor. Possibly the most interesting difference between the three models, is the conditions they were each developed under.

The first hand I got, the Talon, was developed under field testing conditions. My father would print a hand and send it to me, I would use it either until it broke, or I got enough data about how strong/comfortable/good a fit it was to justify a new iteration. This means it’s very strong, quite bulky, and feels like a luxury couch for my paw. This model is still my favorite, partly because of how much work we’ve been able to put into it to make it a part of me, and the incorporation of leather into the design.

The next one I tried was the Cyborg Beast. This was developed under laboratory conditions. It has lots of beautiful curves, and it’s obvious that those making it are very adept at 3D modeling. Trying it was a very different experience, and as pretty as it is, I can’t wear it for very long. It can’t really compare to the talon in terms of grip strength and comfort. It has a lot of great mechanisms and ideas incorporated into it that the Talon could benefit from, but it doesn’t hold up well in the field.

Queue the most recent addition to the e-NABLE hand family, the Raptor. This guy was developed under intense collaboration, and experience working with 3D printers and prosthetic hands. It doesn’t have the elegant curves of the Cyborg Beast, or the craftsmanship we put into the Talon, but it combines the sturdy cable mechanism and ease of construction of the Cyborg Beast with some of the comfort and strength of the Talon. I feel it could still use some work, but it has a lot of potential to become the new leading model of 3D printed hand.

What are your thoughts on families/parents building these with their kids? Has it brought you and your dad closer?

Sharing this project with my dad has brought us a lot closer. I was going back and forth between two households as a kid ever since I was four, and I got to see him only on the weekends before I moved out to the other side of the country at age 16. This collaboration has allowed us to do a lot of reconnecting. This project involves brainstorming, sharing ideas and experiences, and generally being really cool. It’s like those classic “father/son” projects like fixing the car of building a treehouse, but with way cooler technology, and making it a much more ongoing theme of collaboration.  I think it’s a great bonding and collaboration experience for a family to go through, and I’d recommend it to everyone with the resources available. Making a hand sounds very big and scary, but once you actually sit down and start doing it, it’s not too difficult.

Anything else you would like to add?

This project has also taught me some important lessons about thinking about myself as a work in progress to actively work on improving. When you take an active role in making a part of yourself, you begin to think of yourself, not as a static entity, moving through the world, letting things happen to it, but as something that you put time and effort into making better. The classic image of a cyborg is that of someone who makes time to make repairs and upgrades to themselves and that’s a powerful mentality for anyone to have.

Come meet Peregrine at our Conference at Johns Hopkins! He is looking forward to showing the little ones that “big people” have hands like theirs too!

REGISTRATION & TICKETS: Visit our Ticketing page.

SCHEDULE: Visit the Scheduling Page.

SPEAKERS:  Learn more about our speakers!

Thanks to generous sponsors, families with children who have a need for a device as well as Veterans and Wounded Warriors – will be able to attend the conference for free.

INFO: If you would like more information on this event – please visit our press release page HERE.

PRESS: If you are a member of the Media/Press and would like to be invited to cover this event live or help us spread the word about the as-yet-to-be-announced highlights – please email us at enablepressrelease@gmail.com.

QUESTIONS: For more information – please email info@enablingthefuture.org.

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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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Impact Testing “The Beast!”

A team of students at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have been testing the durability and impact resistance of the Cyborg Beast Design!

They have been having fun – dropping it from 3 different heights to help determine the hand’s resilience. This included a 1, 3 and a 5 story fall!


The hand held up very well with just a few scrapes and scratches and they discovered that the biggest damage was located in the rails that separate the wrist straps. One of the screws on the tensioning pin came loose and there was a scuff mark up on top of the palm near the knuckle.

Even with these minor damages, the hand still held it’s function and retained it’s gripping mechanism. All of these damages can be easily replaced or fixed.

These tests will lead to information that will give our design teams feedback and help us to create stronger and more durable devices for all!

Below – you can see the only real damage from the “Drop” test! I guess you could say…”IT’S A BEAST!”

The railings between the straps broke.

A tensioning screw came loose.


There was a scuff mark on the top of the palm piece.



Johns Hopkins And e-NABLE – Part 1


Back in June, we got an email from Dr. Albert Chi – a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, whose practice includes critical care, trauma and acute care surgery. He also has a background in biomedical engineering and a clinical research – focused on improving the lives of individuals with traumatic injuries with an emphasis on motor control. Dr. Chi is also a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserves (at Walter Reed)  in his dedication to serve our country and help care for the wounded warriors returning home and those injured on the field.


Dr. Chi is a leader in clinical research that is dedicated to individuals with upper extremity amputations and spinal cord injuries. He started a new program at Johns Hopkins, which enables individuals to use advanced myoelectric prosthetics after nerve reinnervation surgery and has been working on advanced human computer interfaces that allows individuals to control robotics with only their eyes. (Source: https://www.meddium.com/mas/achi3.mp)


You can see more of his work here:


In his first email, Dr. Chi simply asked us if we had any e-NABLE members who lived in or near Baltimore – that would be able to come teach him how to create our 3d printed prosthetic hands so he can fit them to some patients. This led to various conversations and ultimately – an invitation for 4 of our core e-NABLE members and leaders to visit him at Johns Hopkins to meet, share his work with us and teach him how to assemble and create our low cost 3d printable devices!

On Monday, July 14th, 2014 – Jon Schull (The founder of e-NABLE), Ivan Owen (The co-creator of the original 3d printed hand design), Peter Binkley (designer of the Talon and Ody hand and soon to be released Flextendor version) and Jen Owen (Ivan Owen’s wife and blogger/voice of e-NABLE) went to visit Dr. Chi and his staff.


Watching a man who spends his days hooking up electrodes to his patients and working with some of the most advanced technology in upper limb prosthetics – get excited and laugh out loud when he picked up a $50 e-NABLE 3D printed prosthetic hand and made it move – was incredible. While we were standing there in awe of his amazing talent and taking in the advanced robotic options for Dr. Chi’s amputee patients – he was like a kid in a candy store – playing with the simple body powered devices that we had brought along and can’t wait until he gets to fit some to children and disabled veterans at the local hospitals near him!


It was a whirlwind of information, sharing of ideas and coming up with ways to collaborate together for some HUGE and amazing things that will be announced soon!

Next blog post – Dr. Chi and his staff learn how to create a 3d printed Talon/Beast combo hand with the help of Ivan Owen and Peter Binkley!

Stay tuned!

For more photos – please visit our Facebook album!


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Swimming with…”The Beast!”

Please click above to watch a video of Shea swimming with her e-NABLE Cyborg Beast hand!

Over the past few months, sweet Shea has been e-NABLE’s “Poster Child”  – with her adorable giggle, contagious smile and her willingness to try out all sorts of different hand designs that Frankie Flood and Adream Bair and the team at UWM have been making for her. Shea has tested the Talon and the Cyborg versions of our designs and continues to share feedback on what is working and what needs to be improved.

Now that summer has arrived – she decided she wanted to test her Cyborg Beast out in the pool… and the results of her experiment?

*Insert giggle* “It is really FUN!” It’s easier to swim!”


Her mom writes: “Shea thought it was fun to swim with it! She said there was some “Drag” (Harder to pull through the water) on the forward crawl but the doggie paddle was easier with the hand because her hand floated on it’s own! She probably spent about 20 minutes playing with it and she can’t wait to go again!”

We asked Frankie to tell us a bit about the hand and tell us how well it will function with Shea getting it wet.

He writes: “We used ABS for printing Shea’s hand. The hardware is all stainless steel and anodized aluminum, the padding is Paterson closed cell foam and the velcro is tankard velcro. The padding is adhered to the gauntlet by epoxy. The hardware will not rust and should hold up to the moisture quite well. The ABS should be resistant to warping in the sun – it’s melting point is about 200 degrees.” 

So there you have it friends!

Take your “Beast” a swimmin!



e-NABLING Differences – With 3D Printed Hands

This is Tully.

He is missing his arm  just below the elbow and has been working with his mom Karen and one of our e-NABLE volunteers Karyn Traphagen – to come up with a device that will work for him. He has also been a big part of helping to put his own device together and was also out helping to run the e-NABLE booth at the North Carolina Maker Faire back in June!



Most would assume that he would be eagerly awaiting the chance to test out the new arm design that our team at MAGIC RIT has been working on – but Tully is more interested in strapping a simple e-NABLE  hand to his elbow instead.


Because his entire life he has been using his “little paw” just below the elbow to do everyday tasks.  For Tully –  it makes more sense to him to just add fingers there instead of trying to adjust to having an extension where there hasn’t ever been one before. He isn’t concerned with how it looks – just that it works to do things he hasn’t been able to without fingers before now. (Though he is extremely excited that his e-NABLE hand glows in the dark!)


Young Derek, who is working with Jon Schull and the team at MAGIC RIT – designed the “long version” of the arm. From Derek’s perspective – he has been missing his arm his whole life…why not make it an extendo-arm instead?! Why stop at a matching arm length…when you can add inches to your reach? A reach you could never have been born with?

We are learning that the children who are getting these devices are not as interested in “Looking Normal” as most adults would be…they don’t view the world the same way we do. They aren’t constantly bombarded with what society tells them they should look like. Not yet anyway.

They don’t care that these devices look like “Robot hands” or “Plastic Toy Hands” …Actually – they break out in full body smiles when you mention that they will now look like the coolest “Transformer” there ever was! You give a child the choice between a more “Normal” looking prosthetic hand and a “Cyborg Robot” looking device – and 9 times out of 10, they are going to go with the hand that makes them feel like a super hero.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more adults were able to look at the world that way too? Being comfortable within our own skin and celebrating our differences…and allowing ourselves to do what feels right and true to ourselves – instead of what we think the world expects (and often demands) us to do?

Just picture the devices we could come up with over the next year…if we sat in a room full of children and created for them the hands of their imaginations!

“Too often we give children answers to remember – rather than problems to solve.” - Roger Lewin


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