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 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


Happy Birthday e-NABLE!


(Please click on the image above to view our Happy Birthday e-NABLE video!) 

One year ago, Jon Schull created an online community to coordinate the crowdsourced design and delivery of 3D printed prosthetic hands to all who need them. On day one, there were 18 members…today, one year later, we have over 1150 and the numbers grow every single day.


What started as a simple question, posted on a video that he saw about two men who had created a 3d printed hand for a small child in South Africa – asking if anyone else with a 3d printer would like to help make hands too…has grown into a global online community of not just 3d print enthusiasts….but has also evolved to include makers, thinkers, artists, designers, engineers, students,  teachers, children, parents, families, occupational therapists, colleges, libraries, hand specialists, prosthetists and more.

Today we celebrate a year of collaborations, friendships forged, goodwill extended, hands and smiles created, lives changed, knowledge gained, challenges offered, creativity shared and all of the volunteers who make this global e-NABLE community thrive.

Let’s see what another year can do!

“This is an experiment in world-changing. So far, so incredible!

On Day One – when the map was created – we described ourselves as a “Global volunteer assistive technology network build on an infrastructure of electronic communications, 3D printing and good will.”

The experiment has already proven that there are literally thousands of skilled and generous people worldwide who will offer their time and support for a challenge and opportunity like this…and be grateful for the opportunity!

And in the future, it is quite possible that our model will generalize.

From “3D printing” to “emerging technologies,” and from “Assistive technology” to…”e-NABLE the full potential of underserved populations to help make the world a better place?”

- Jon Schull



A Family Comes Together To Create 3D Printed Hand

Last weekend, Dawson and his family drove for 12 long hours (round trip)  in hopes of finally seeing a dream for a functional hand come to life – and were welcomed into the home of one of the original designers of these 3D printed mechanical hands. Dawson’s mom Dawn had contacted Jen, Ivan’s wife, after fellow e-NABLE member and designer behind the Open Hand ProjectJoel Gibbard – gave her information on how to contact us!

One of the goals and hopes of the e-NABLE community – is that we not only provide hands for people in need – but that we really enable these families to learn to maintain their donated devices and to build them themselves. Giving them a fully assembled hand with no knowledge of how to build it themselves -will only enable one child. Teaching them how to make a hand for their child will enable them to eventually teach other parents how to make them or get them excited about making them for others and thus enable many more!


Dawn was very eager to learn how to make these hands for her son and wanted to make sure that she and her husband would know how to repair the hand if it were to break, as well as learn how to make his future upgraded versions as he grows. They decided they wanted to drive the 6 hours to the Owen home so that they could not only be taught how to create these hands themselves – but so that Dawson could participate in assembling his very own 3d printed hand.


She writes:

“We so enjoyed getting to know you! You are such a giving and loving family, to open your house and give your time as a family – for me and my family.

I would like to say that having someone build the hand for us would not have made it as special for us. We really enjoyed being part of it and watching how it goes together. We now see how it works and if there are any issues, we can help fix them or maybe come up with other ideas to make it better down the road. It also helped to bring the family together. The boys really bonded over the hand. Seth wants to have one now! 

Any family that does not build it -is really losing out.

I can not even begin to tell you what this hand has done for all of us. It was amazing to see Dawson share it with a stranger when we were getting gas. (On the way home.) He has never done that before. He does not hide his hand but he does not put it out there for others to see or ask questions. But yesterday, he was like “MOM! Tell her about my hand!” and he showed his hand without and with his new hand. It made me cry.

When we got home – he ran over to the neighbor’s house and was showing the whole family. He then went to play baseball (with a plastic bat and ball) and held it for the first time. That was amazing. He ran in and said “Mom and Dad – come watch this!”

I just can not say thank you enough for the dreams you made come true yesterday – not just for Dawson, but for me and my whole family.”

These are the kind of stories we want to see more of. More families and parents creating these hands for themselves. More people feeling enabled. More people teaching other people how to make them and sharing their knowledge to spread through out the world.

The e-NABLE team is working on a mentorship program – where folks in the community who have made hands already, are signing up to become mentors for others that want to learn how but don’t know where to start or feel like they need more one on one assistance to really properly understand how to make a safe and functional hand for someone.

If you are interested in joining this amazing global movement or if you are interested in learning how to make a hand and want to see about getting matched  with a mentor – please visit our Google+ Group!

Jen and Ivan sent Dawson home with a “My 3D Printed Hand” journal to document his thoughts about his new hand, give the e-NABLE designers feedback on what works and what doesn’t and to make suggestions for them to help make these hands even more functional for the next version!

Dawson not only learned how to assemble his own prosthetic hand (He has a Talon Hand/fingers with a Cyborg Beast Arm!)- but he is excited to be part of the “research” team so that he can help other kids get hands too!

How amazing is that?


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